Fort Scott Washateria is a full-service laundry mat that is slated to open in August at 501 S. National. In addition, a community clothing distribution system will be located on the property.
Lori Lovelace is the manager, her mother Carol Oakleaf, is the investor/owner.
The business venture came about when Lovelace was doing research for an investment her mother would be interested in.
“I found that Leroy (Walker, her husband) was paying $100 a month to have his rags cleaned. And I did research on laundry mats. Being part of the community, I think the community needed something like this.”
They bought the former gas station on National Avenue in December 2018.
Darren Crays, local signmaker, made the new sign that hangs atop a pole of the former gas station to let the community know the business is coming.
In what is reminiscent of decades past, the laundry will offer to pick up and deliver or one can drop off their laundry.
“We will come to your home, pick up your stuff, wash it and dry it and take it back to you,” Lovelace said.
“If you have sensitive skin, we will provide what is needed,” she said.
Alteration of clothing and ironing services will also be offered.
The machines will all be “state of the art,” Lovelace said, and include heavy-duty washers and dryers. Thirteen washers and 16 dryers.
There will be a children’s section with a blackboard wall, TVs and bean bags, she said.
A hospitality section will have free coffee and tea and have vending machines.
“There will be free WiFi in the folding area and charging stations,” she said.
The hours will be seven days a week from 8 a.m to 8 p.m.
“At least three employees will be needed, with more later,” Lovelace said.
There will be loyalty cards, and the business will take debit and credit cards, she said.
“If you buy $20, you get $22 worth of washing and drying,” Lovelace said.
An investment in Fort Scott
Lovelace’s other job is real estate appraiser, with Phoenix Inspection and Appraisals Inc. The laundry facility will be under the umbrella of Hawkeye Investments LLC, with her mother.
Walker is owner of Carhelp Mobile Mechanic.
“We believe with marketing, the venture has potential to be successful,” she said.
“You can make a quality investment in Fort Scott that people will accept and use,” Walker said. “Everybody I’ve told is 100 percent excited.”
Fort Scott Community Closet
A project Lovelace and her mom are initiating is a clothes pantry that will be in a small building, 12 by 20 foot, adjacent to the laundry mat.
Lovelace said she heard about the Beacon, a local helping ministry, recently closing the clothing segment of the ministry, so she is providing a place for donated clothes to be taken.
The Fort Scott Community Closet, the title of the clothes pantry, will be sponsored by the area churches, she said. “The churches will decide how to operate.”
“Donated clothes will be sorted and cleaned and put in a separate building on the property,” Lovelace said. “We can give away clothes and that’s my intention.”
“I am figuring the 501 3c right now,” she said.” I need people that will be on the (Fort Scott Community Closet) board. We purchased the shed that will be there, a spot on our property. We will provide the initial sorting then wash them.”
“Anyone interested in being on that board that is civic-minded, let me know,” Lovelace said.
She can be reached at 620-215-1314.