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Couple turns an old laundromat into dream community space that offers free laundry days

A couple from Charleston, South Carolina, Erin, and Jon Carpenter, renovated an old laundromat and went viral after turning it into a dream community space.

The couple has been fixing up old buildings for years and recently found a laundromat in their hometown.

“A laundromat was never really on my radar personally, but Jon is a very smart entrepreneur and businessman; he’s always been interested in the concept of a laundromat,” Carpenter told Newsweek.

The couple got married three years ago, and during their 4-month honeymoon, they enjoyed road life in an RV and used laundromats.

“We worked remotely, so we sometimes needed to work from laundromats. We took so many photos of them,” said Carpenter, adding that they spent much time in laundromats, and only a few are “cozy and comfortable.”

A couple of years later, the Carpenters acquired a building in Charleston that used to be a community laundromat for over a decade.

“It’s a good investment, and they can be really cool community builders too, so we went for it,” Carpenter said.

The pair took over the local laundromat and operated it normally for a few months while they got to know the local businesses and residents.

They hosted a free laundry during last year’s New Year’s Eve with a local charity and temporarily closed the business the next day for renovations, according to ABC News.

Carpenter said that they wanted to know the community more and learn what its customers need and want and how they can improve it.

The couple fixed the laundromat and turned it into their dream community space.

“The first thing we wanted to do was just get rid of a lot of old stuff that had been left there,” said Carpenter, explaining that removing the old, abandoned stuff that the laundromat has accumulated for years made a lot of difference.

The couple created a mood board based on laundromats and facilities worldwide. Most of their inspirations came from places in Tokyo or Amsterdam.

“They have these amazing laundromats that are so beautifully designed. You don’t see as much of that here, and we wanted to create a comfortable space,” said Carpenter.

Carpenter documented the renovation of the old laundromat on TikTok, from fixing and repainting the machines to redecorating and replacing the walls and floor.

Several community members came to help them, including a local painter-decorator and the old owner who taught them how to operate the machines.

Though many of the building’s original features were preserved, the couple modernized the space by installing a vending machine and washing machines with QR codes, which allowed them to earn while they were away.

The couple also ensured that the laundromat offered the community a place to enjoy.

“There are so many hours spent there, so it felt really important to make the space comfortable, clean, and safe,” said Carpenter, explaining that aside from the functional aspects of doing the laundry, they also think about the families who spend time in their laundromat.

“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.”

The couple, who work full time, had the grand re-launch of Reynolds Laundry early this year along with its original employee.

They offered another free laundry day and teamed up with the Lowcountry Blessing Box Project to make the re-launch special.

This local charity maintains and stocks “blessing boxes” throughout the Lowcountry filled with non-perishable food items, baby supplies, toiletries, and other things that could help someone in need.

A transformed laundromat looking clean and chic.

Courtesy Jon and Erin Carpenter

Aside from boxes, the local charity also organizes free laundry days for the neighborhood, an opportunity for the new owners to get involved with helping the community.

“They’re incredible,” she said and explained that the charity collects donations of quarters and brings them to the laundromat so that the community can enjoy doing their laundry for free for a day.

“It was so, so fun to work with them—they’re community staples,” Erin added.

The local community showed their support for the couple’s business. They came to the grand re-launch and brought food, had fun, and let the new owners see the potential of their laundromat.

Carpenter said they don’t have monetary goals and want a good business, but they care more about the community.

Carpenter also said they spent lots of time with the people in their community and saw how many people go there daily.

There have been enough requests and donations, according to the Carpenters, for them to have several free laundry days every month at Reynolds Laundry.

Erin said she and Jon plan to offer a drop-off and delivery laundry service and create community areas in other places.

They also want to keep the prices in their laundromat low for the community.

“I think we just really want to listen to what the people want and need,” said Carpenter. “I want to do more free laundry days and community serving events, whatever that may be.”

Here’s the video they created on TikTok to show the epic transformation of the laundromat into a dream community space:

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