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Thread: Are they building standalone car washes like crazy in your area too?

  1. #16
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    Dec 2008
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    Northern Michigan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    Money laundering was my first thought. We had a self serve car wash that closed here a few years ago. Not sure if the one across town is still in business.


    jtk
    This makes sense. Cash business. Years ago they built a huge low budget hotel here in the most out of the loop place. Never saw any cars there to speak of. It was owned by a group from Jersey. "Ya, we were filled to capacity every night!"

  2. #17
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    Jan 2007
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    Michiana
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    We have a wealth of car washes in my neck of the woods. They do a brisk business washing off road salt in the winter and bug DNA in the summer. One major chain has built or upgraded several locations in the last few years.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  3. #18
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    May 2018
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    Lancaster, Ohio
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    I keep the two nicest vehicles on monthly plan at Moo Moo car wash primarily for the underbody, secondary for the looks. The vacuums at the one in Lancaster are always in use, just not a lot of people use them. Went thru one in Columbus in yuppieville area, somewhat close to OSU, and Downtown. Lot of older buildings torn down and replace by 3-6 story apartments, etc. last 5 years. The vacuums were over 65% in use not so the car wash. Vacuums are free to use.
    Ron
    Old Codger
    In it for fun

  4. #19
    A great Freakonomics podcast covered this, recently: https://freakonomics.com/podcast/car-washes/

    Summary: business model changes (monthly subscriptions), increased demand, better tech, and institutional investors.

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Minneapolis, MN
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    5,506
    I doubt that many people are paying cash for a tunnel type car wash these days. The total self service places with a wash bay and per minute cost to use the sprayer would likely still attract a lot of cash.

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Sterling, Virginia
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    647
    In my area we had several dedicated car wash places. A chain called Flagship came in and built a couple more and bought up almost all the rest of them. WE also have the small gas station ones and a couple of coin operated DIY ones. The main Flagship location is all inside. Basic wash is $14.00. You pay at a kiosk then drive into the wash tunnel then they have an area with vacuums and clean rags if you want to finish it yourself. If you want to spend $36.00 after the wash you drive onto a conveyor and a team washes the mats, vacuums the inside , cleans the windows inside and out etc. They do a really nice job. When they are busy there are three conveyors to handle all the cars passing through.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Northern Oregon
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    1,830
    A friend owns two of the Three car washes in my area. No new ones in the last 25 years.
    However two years ago he added new equipment to an outdated tunnel wash. He said it cost close to a half million for 1 tunnel wash. It's half the amount of equipment that was there before the remodel. I asked him why so expensive for so little equipment? He said technology and more efficient.
    Since then the new more efficient highly technical equipment breaks down often monthly probably. He said its been a nightmare as it's a special tech that must come to repair it. And he loses money for the days and weeks that it takes to get the repair done!
    A sad situation for him.
    It reminds me of all the electronics in new cars that's very expensive to repair.
    Last edited by Andrew Joiner; 04-30-2024 at 12:17 PM.
    "Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t - you’re right."
    - Henry Ford

  8. #23
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    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patty Hann View Post
    I'm wondering if it's not more the case of "Supply and Demand".
    Guessing most people don't want to be bothered with another routine chore and are willing to pay for the "luxury" of someone else washing their car.
    No more washing supplies needed at home, dragging out the hose etc, whatever.
    Kind of like fast food ("eating out").
    At some point (I don't recall the year) families began eating out at an unprecedented higher rate.
    Again, they probably balanced cost against convenience.
    (I do know my Dad never became part of that demographic. )
    For me, it’s not about being bothered; rather, it’s about not spending time on things I don’t enjoy, especially when for eight bucks I can ride through the tunnel in five minutes while I’m doing errands to stores like Lowe’s and Tar-Zhey next door to the car wash. And that’s only about once a month. At home I then have the time to be in my shop or take care of things for family members instead of doing car care. As always, these are just personal choices and there is no right or wrong thing about any of them…including never washing the car.

    My dad paid for hand washes by local folks to support their business as he was in sales and always wanted his car shiny…it was a sign of success for his generation.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #24
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    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Edgerton View Post
    This makes sense. Cash business. Years ago they built a huge low budget hotel here in the most out of the loop place. Never saw any cars there to speak of. It was owned by a group from Jersey. "Ya, we were filled to capacity every night!"
    None of the car washes I use accept cash except one and the cash slot on the menu system is often broken. No humans are involved with collecting payments.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #25
    some buy the land to park money and the land goes up and its sold seen this in TO past,. They want it to make money but more so they want the land that most often goes up. Ive learned detail from two good people so its best for me to do my own car. One friend who is a top detailer is doing it five or six days and he is strong to an unusual level. The guy in LA that I learned from was hard as rock because its not easy work to do a car. It was part of his fitness routine as well as spin classes and marathon bike rides.

    Real estate guy here told me his father also an agent said the people that bought the most homes were the ones that came in an old car with good tires. Those were the ones that didnt have a 600.00 a month car payment.

  11. #26
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
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    3,710
    I'm aware of only three car washes within a 10 mile radius of my house and none being built. Not aware of any associated with gas stations, and none of the self-serve pressure wash places that seem common elsewhere. If my car gets washed (a rare occurrence) it's usually done by the high school swim team, marching band, or whatever. Higher end detailers set up shop in every parking garage in the city it seems.

    I just read today about how the bloom is going off self storage, just as it did the quick oil change places a decade ago. I suspect this is the "next hot thing" in this particular investing sector.

  12. #27
    always change my own oil. Bought a wallywagon in SC. Way home got an oil change in Ohio as it was overdue. got home oil on the driveway next day, checked and the dumb ass kid had cross threaded the oil plug. Lost a lot of oil way home all down the underside of the car. Called them and they said bring it back and they would give me a free oil change.

  13. #28
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Kansas City
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    2,717
    More car washes than there used to be. It seems to me that they are being squeezed in on infill and oddly shaped lots that otherwise aren't useful for much else. My guess is that they're good generators of cash with low building costs and equipment that's easily re-sold.

    It's not against the rules here, but I rarely see people washing cars at home anymore. Yeah, I think people are more than happy to trade money for time.
    < insert spurious quote here >

  14. #29
    There is one being built here. Not like crazy though.

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
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    10,209
    Easy to launder money through a car wash. Just add it to the daily take and claim that many extra washes went through. No extra cost to run a fake wash or two. No extra soap or wax cost etc need be shown to the irs. Marijuana is legal in California by state law but no banks or credit cards will touch the money. They are worried the feds will jump in some day and take it all back with federal time to be served.
    Bill D

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