Most people, when they think about shopping local, they think about small businesses like boutiques and gift shops. But, there are many service and needs based businesses that are locally owned as well.
Athens’ newest laundromat, The Bubble Hut, just opened up at the beginning of the month on Highway 31.
“We just felt like there was an opportunity to provide something nice and new and modern to the community,” owner Ryan Dorminey said. “There was a building that we kind of had our eyes on.”
That building, of course, is none other than the old spot for a Pizza Hut, which Dorminey says pretty much anyone would recognize. He said a friend suggested the Bubble Hut as the name, and it stuck.
“You know everybody that’s from Athens knows that that was a Pizza Hut. It was there for forty years or something. It’s definitely a play on the Pizza Hut and the laundromat,” he said. “You see laundromats and a lot of them … they’re just kind of generic and boring, and it’s just a laundromat … we wanted something that was unique and something that just kind of stood out to people.”
He said they have 15 washers and 21 dryers in the facility, and after the first month or so they were able to make any adjustments needed to the equipment to get it running smoothly for their clients.
“Doing laundry is a pretty essential part to anybody’s day-to-day life. You know, you’ve got to have clean clothes; you’ve got to have clean bedding; you’ve got to have the ability to get your stuff clean,” Dorminey said. “A lot of folks around Athens, they’re either living in apartments without washer hook-ups or they’re living somewhere where they’re on septic and can’t run a washing machine.”
He said they’ve seen people come in as well whose machines may have broken and they are waiting on parts or can’t buy a new one yet. It’s his first small business. He works a full-time job, too, but he says his wife’s family is also a small business owner in the community so they knew some of what they would be getting into, and they wanted to open something up that would serve the people around them.
“A lot of people that are going to laundromats may not be going by choice, per say. They don’t have another option. They’ve got to clean their clothes, and they don’t have a washer or dryer at home and they’ve got to go somewhere,” he said. “We felt like whatever we could do to make the experience better … that was our objective and our goal.”
He said people from all over Limestone County have come to the Bubble Hut, which surprised him.
“I was thinking it was going to be a local, five mile radius that our customers were going to come from,” he said. “It’s been surprising for me to have so many people from other communities around Athens that are driving to Athens just to do their laundry.”
As a new business he said it’s been good to get that feedback from people that they’re willing to drive to their location because of their payment options, cleanliness, and amenities. He said, overall, the experience of opening a small business has been challenging and fun.
“I would encourage other people in the community,” he said. “If you’ve got an idea or if you’ve got something that you think is going to be beneficial or helpful to the community and you can make money on it and you can make it a successful business – take the chance and see what happens”
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