Cleaning Up The Downtown

Belleville Man Gets Funds To Open Laundromat

By Deb Hadachek
Telescope News

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A vacant building on the south side of the downtown square that’s become a bit of Belleville’s dirty laundry will soon get a clean start. On Monday, Republic County Commissioners approved a $65,000 loan from the Republic County revolving loan fund to Waylon Sheetz, d/b/a Sheetz and Suds, to open a coin-operated self-serve laundry service at 1318 19th ST in Belleville. The building has been vacant for several years, although was most recently part of a thrift store. Sheetz will also receive a $21,000 loan from the eCommunity fund, a separate revolving loan fund, towards the project.

Sheetz, who is director of the Belleville Chamber and Main Street program, said the seed for the business was planted during a discussion with a local business person.

“He said ‘what this town needs is a laundromat’,” he said. “I got to thinking about what he said, and realized it was something that I could do.”

Sheetz said he plans to pattern the business after a laundromat in Cottonwood Falls opened in a renovated historic downtown building. (For more on that business see https://savingplaces.org/stories/cleanhistory-laundromat-thatanchors-a-kansas-town#. XoNVld_YreI). Owners of the Cottonwood Falls business said that a laundromat is often listed as a need on community surveys.

The business will contain eight washing machines, one of which will be industrial grade, and six dryers, one industrial grade. The building already contains an apartment in the rear of the building which can be used as a rental, he said.

“People in the community have told me that they drive to Scandia or Concordia to use laundromats there,” he said. “Many families can’t afford to own their own washer/dryers, or if they break down, they can’t afford to have them repaired. We also have a number of contractors and travelers through this area who need laundry facilities.”

Sheetz said he hopes to have the business open by mid-July, prior to the NCK Free Fair.

According to the trade organization coinlaundry.org, the coin laundry industry is approximately 70 years old and is primarily composed of individual owner/operators. Currently, there are about 29,500 coin laundries in the United States, generating nearly $5 billion in gross revenue annually.

Laundromats have been deemed essential businesses in the list allowed to remain open during the CV19 closures.

In voting in favor of the loan, Commissioner Melvin Jeardoe said commissioners and RCD committee wrestled with whether this is the right time to make a loan for a new business.

“My feelings are that it would help the whole community, and it’s a new business which we can support,” he said. Commissioner Marvin Bergstrom, participating in the discussion by phone, made the motion to approve the loan. Commissioner Edwin Splichal voted against.