I was just perusing the latest issue of the NH Business Review and noticed a familiar face on the cover. Laura Simoes, a Waterville Valley property owner, and her partner Kristyn Van Ostern opened Wash Street on Elm, a Manchester, NH laundromat, in April 2017.
At first glance, I wondered how a laundromat could grab the attention of a writer at the NH Business Review. The coin-op laundry business isn’t the most glamorous or innovative. After seeing that Laura is involved, I realized there has to be more to this story than a plain old laundromat located in the Queen City.
Laura and her husband Jayme are entrepreneurs with a community spirited heart. Laura is a communications and management consultant. Jayme heads up Louis Karno & Company, a strategic communications company in Concord, NH, which has strong ties to Waterville Valley. Jayme and his company provide public relations services for the Waterville Valley Resort Association.
According to the NHBR article, Wash Street on Elm came about because “Laundry is the ultimate leveler,” Simoes said. “Everyone has to do it.”
Wash Street on Elm is “about making it easier — not just for [Simoes and her partner], but for other people, too.”
“Wash Street on Elm offers three services: coin-operated laundry, wash and fold, and dry cleaning. But it’s the on-demand and free pickup and delivery services, offered seven days a week, which set it apart from other businesses.
“Another thing that sets Wash Street apart is that the laundromat business didn’t grow from a love of doing laundry; in fact, it was rather the opposite.
“Simoes and Van Ostern, who each have two children, come from households where both parents work full time… They met in 2002 while working for U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign, but it wasn’t until a lunch date at the Gas Lighter Restaurant in Concord in 2016 where the idea of a laundromat began to take shape.”
Once the laundromat was up and running, Laura tasked her high school aged son with creating a children’s space at Wash Street on Elm – a reading and play nook that not only entertains kids while they’re parents are doing laundry, but provides a space for community story time events.