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A Smart Way To Do Laundry In Albany

It was bound to happen sooner or later: doing the laundry has gone high-tech. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas went to downtown Albany to see for himself.

Lucky Cat makes the way you wash your clothes today look like you're still doing laundry outside with a rock, tub and washboard.

Lucky Cat is the name of downtown Albany's newest laundromat. Downtown Albany Business Improvement District executive director Georgette Steffens hopes the new establishment will inspire others to set up shop.   "We need to make it easy to open businesses and to do business in downtown Albany."

Lucky Cat owner William "Tragedy" Yager, himself a cat lover, pounced on the opportunity.  "I own tattoo shops, barber shops, I own salons. I can pretty much do anything and I was gonna put all those things here, and I thought to myself, 'we need to clean up downtown. We need to clean up the South End. We're gonna get a laundromat which'll be the most cleanest, energy efficient...' "

Kinderhook Bank financed Yager's $500,000 venture, which involved purchasing, renovating and outfitting the 2,900-square foot building — which, by the way, has 12 parking spaces.  Mayor Kathy Sheehan:   "William is living proof that small business is really the engine that runs our economy. You started with one, then went to two and three and four, and this is five, right? Five small businesses, creating jobs, creating economic development, creating opportunity."

Yager:   "We're almost a LED building. These are all LED lights, these are the most high-efficiency machines you can possibly buy. These machines right here are it. Used to take 11 gallons of water to do a load of laundry in a top-loader, and now it takes 3 gallons of water in an 80-ponder to do laundry. It comes out clean. Clean and fresh as possible. And we're not using as much water. We're not using as much electricity. We're not using as much gas, so that's all helping the bottom line."

Variously sized washing machines cost $2.75 to $8.50. Driers are set from 50 cents for 4-7-minute increments; with size a factor as well.   The laundromat cameras also allow Yager to remotely assist customers who may encounter a problem with a machine: think "instant customer service."

The operation is as colorful as its tattooed owner and aims to gain five-star favor across social networks. Located at 133 Madison Avenue near South Pearl Street, it combines the forgotten attributes of a live attendant, on-premises wash and fold, pick up and delivery with a cutting-edge smartphone app that when fully operational will let you check the laundromat to see how busy the place is, allow you to reserve a couple of washers side-by-side, pay by phone when you get there — and be notified when your machines are finished.  Additionally, the machines accept major credit cards.  And if you're not into plastic or new-fangled technology:   "You can also use quarters. You have a change machine in the back..."

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Lucky Cat makes the way you wash your clothes today look like you're still doing laundry outside with a rock, tub and washboard.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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