This Couple Bought and Revamped an Abandoned Laundromat — Now It’s a Thriving Community Hub With Free Laundry Days
“People are craving community and we wanted to give it to them.”
When Covid-19 decided to throw a giant wrecking ball into our lives, no one saw it coming. Life as we knew it literally changed overnight, tumbling our worlds upside down and inside out.
Covid changed a lot of things for a lot of people. Including Jon and Erin Carpenter.
If someone would have told them two years ago that today they would be the proud owners of a laundromat, they probably would have thought they were crazy. Yet, if someone would have told us that the entire world would be shut down because of a global pandemic, we would have thought they were crazy too.
And yet, here they are.
How One Couple’s Journey to Laundromat Ownership Unfolded
Back in 2020, right smack dab in the middle of covid, Jon and Erin got married. They decided that the most Covid-friendly honeymoon would be to rent a camper van and cruise up Highway 1 along the pacific west coast.
And that’s where laundromats come in.
“We saw all different types of laundromats and all different types of people that go to laundromats,” Jon told GMA. “We would see some really cool ones that were … in higher-end locations and they would have brew on tap and have all this stuff for those areas, but when we would be in certain areas of towns that weren’t necessarily higher income, they would be run-down, like they were neglected and left behind.”
They also saw the incredible community laundromats provide. A gathering place for people of all ages who would often spend hours each week together.
A seed was born.
They Transform a Laundromat AND a Community
After their honeymoon, the couple settled in Charleston, South Carolina. They wanted to get involved in the community somehow and that’s when Jon became “obsessed” with laundromats.
He found one for sale in a largely abandoned area of Charleston. The old laundromat had a “bustling business” but had fallen into disrepair with broken machines and a general air of neglect. However, instead of seeing a dilapidated building, the couple saw potential.
As veteran renovators of previous projects, including a bed and breakfast, they weren’t afraid to get dirty.
“Our thought is, if we can bring in [Erin’s] design skills, bring some technology, fix some things, and renovate, it will not only be something amazing for the community, but maybe it’ll be a good business too,” Jon said. “So that was our hope.”
So, they put it all on the line and took the leap. They spent six months getting to know the business and figuring out a renovation plan. On New Year’s Day, they closed for renovations.
It took three months, but as of the end of March, the renovation is complete. And it is…WOW.
The Amazing Transformation: From Ordinary to Extraordinary
In a video that has gone viral with over 12M views, the Carpenters give a 30-second glimpse into the amazing transformation from start to finish.
The couple’s vision went far beyond mere laundry facilities. They transformed the laundromat into a multifunctional space, carefully considering the needs and interests of the community and their customers.
And while the laundromat is indeed stunning, it’s about so much more than just clean clothes.
Because the couple didn’t just create a beautiful space, they created a beautiful sense of community as well.
“There’s so many hours spent there, so it felt really important to make the space comfortable, clean, and safe,” said Erin. “There is the functional aspect of needing to do laundry, but also like families are spending time there—moms are tired and they’re waiting and you want to give them a comfy couch to sit on instead of a broken bench. We want to give kids something to do, somewhere to play.”
Jon and Erin took their venture beyond a simple business operation and turned it into a hub that fosters connection, support, and a sense of belonging among the locals. And their customers, and netizens, are loving it.
More than 6K people have commented on the video, writing:
“Wonderful! I can’t explain to people how laundromats become so important to communities.”
“And safe place for community to take place that has reliable washers, tv, and places to sit!!! Not just a place to leave laundry and go!”
“Laundromats are so vital to communities! No one realizes how important they are until they use one themselves.”
Giving Back to the Community
In addition to providing a much-needed service in their community, the Carpenters also partnered with a local charity, the Lowcountry Blessing Box Project, and provide free laundry days.
The couple said they have already received enough requests and donations to start hosting multiple free laundry days a month at Reynolds Laundromat.
What started as a neglected laundromat has been transformed into an incredible community hub that serves as a shining example of the positive impact that small-scale initiatives can have on a community.
“Let’s really harness that and really think community-forward specifically and see where that can take us,” Erin said. “Because if anything, [the laundromat] has brought to our attention that people want that. People are craving that community and we want to give it to them.”