Archive - February 20, 2019

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Social Spin Laundromat- Phoenix, AZ

Social Spin Laundromat- Phoenix, AZ

I’m no stranger to a laundromat. I’ve spent many mornings (and afternoons) in the dingy environments, getting overcharged per load, wondering just how clean the washers and dryers were, all while gazing endlessly at the dryer as it spun my tees and jeans over-and-over again.

But now, there is a (good) disruption in the industry, and its’ name is Social Spin Laundromat. I heard about them through Instagram, and immediately delved into their world of social impact within the Phoenix community and, not to mention, the raving reviews on Yelp.

It wasn’t until recently that I finally had the chance to stop by the establishment, and meet the owner- Christy Moore. Now, the space isn’t brand spanking new, however, it’s clean and safe; with an overall sense of a welcoming vibe. There’s seating, an area with a few book shelves full of donated books, a children’s play area with toys that were also donated, lockers for dropping off laundry for their wash n’ fold services, and a giant chalk board where customers are encouraged to start a conversation. The best part, in my opinion, is that it’s a $1 (per load) to wash, and 25-cent dryers (the dryers, I might add, run hotter than most in other laundromats, so you spend less when drying as well).

Christy and I sat down and chatted some about how the laundromat got its’ start, how they help the community, and plans for the future.

Years ago, Christy would go to the laundromat with her mother and sisters, and recalled that it was always a pleasant experience. However, fast-forward years later, when she and her husband moved into their house. The washer and dryer hadn’t been delivered yet, sending her into a panic, as there were loads of laundry to be done, and work the next day, so she had to utilize the neighborhood laundromat. After stepping into the laundromat, she felt disheartened at the state it was in: dirty, trash on the floor, dead cockroaches in the corner, hot, people weren’t talking or engaging with one-another. As a social worker, she felt that it was a missed opportunity for the community, that laundromats in their current state are often under-utilized community assets (and that their owners could care less about their customers as well). The gears were quickly turning, so when Christy got home, she flung open the door, and told her husband she was quitting her job and opening a laundromat. She mentioned that she wanted it to have a ‘social spin,’ so she christened the new venture Social Spin Laundromat.

Social Spin launched as a benefit corporation, (which means people over profit) in June 2017. They then launched their wash n’ fold service a few months later. They were using existing laundromats as they built their customer base. Their first location (at 2833 N. 24th St.) was purchased in May 2018.

They’ve been able to rally a lot of community support and $30,000 back in August 2017, and have had regular contributors who sponsor free washes. Christy goes on to explain that there’s always an opportunity to sponsor washes . It’s $2.50 a person, which provides two loads and fourteen minutes of dry time. They offer free laundry on Wednesdays, mainly for people experiencing homelessness. There are events that people can come to, or contribute to (such as a recent pizza party, where they had someone purchase the sodas on behalf of the customers. They have birthday parties once a month. They have cupcakes and balloons and people can sponsor the wash time for that). “We have a sharing environment here. What’s beautiful about Social Spin is that we’re still primarily unattended, which is this test that we’re proving to be true that when you respect your customers, they respect the space. The bathroom is open, there are carts that you can take out to your car…People respect those things, and even contribute to those things.” Folks have contributed toys, books, snacks, a brand-new industrial laundry cart. They’ve also had customers leave quarters for one another. Customers are also encouraged to take home (toys, books, stuffed animals) what they need. Also, feel free to drop off any unwanted clothing, as it helps turn into free laundry services for the customers and community.

They recognize that their customer base typically comes once a week and spends about two hours there. “Between the time you put in your wash to your dry time, there’s about 25 to 30 minutes of wait time. So that’s where we really see the opportunity to connect our customers with each other or resources. Our signature component is our chalkboard that says ‘We want to have a conversation about…’ That’s where our customers communicate with us regarding the types of services or programs they want introduced into the space. Since we opened, we’ve invited St. Joseph the Worker to help our job-seeking customers find jobs. We’ve had Aunt Rita’s Foundation on-site to pass out information about HIV/AIDS and hand out home kits for our customer base. Healthy Start from South Phoenix has stopped by to provide information. We’ve had people register our customers to vote in this space… Based on what they tell us on the chalkboard- if they’re having issues with immigration rights, housing, employment, affordable childcare- Social Spin is all about meeting people where they’re at…allowing them to do a weekly chore, and if we’re able to connect them with a service provider…during that time we’ve lightened their load.”

Turning back to the topic of ‘events’ for a moment, they usually have an in-house DJ in attendance – DJ Jack, who was a customer, who had come in when they were renovating the space, and asked if he could play his boombox…and the rest is history. “Impromptu dance parties, free laundry every Wednesday starting at 9am… so this recognition that everyone deserves clean clothes is core to who we are. So we usually make that a party as well, with food and snacks, music, and volunteers helping our customers wash and fold their clothes. {Social Spin is a}vibrant social hub that provides services to our customer base as well as events that they recommend. We’re a Workforce job-training program. We have crews that help process our wash n’ fold orders (mostly from our over 100 individual commercial customers). We call ourselves ‘laundry fairies.’ The work crews are either adults with disabilities, or youth transitioning out of foster care, or youth transitioning out of prison. They work depending on their needs – five weeks to three months. The job program allows them to not only gain tactical employable skills, but more importantly, to gain the confidence they need to go and find that job.”

Their Mesa location is scheduled to open this month. They have a ‘five locations in five years’ plan, with an exit strategy of shifting power of the laundromats to the customers and communities that they serve. I’m so glad that Christy is changing the laundry industry in the best way possible, at least in Phoenix, but hopefully I’ll see locations pop up throughout the entire state, because everyone deserves to be treated with respect, have clean clothes, and not be ripped off (such as charging $5 just to get a laundry card).

You can contribute to the cause by emailing Christy through the website. Be sure to also follow Social Spin on Facebook and Instagram for further updates.

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