A much-desired service is returning to the Osoyoos community.
Louis and Nicole Coulombe next week are opening Lakeside Laundry in the Cottonwood Plaza, the culmination of about six months of planning, renovating and setting-up of the commercial space between the Lake Village Bakery and Beyond Beauty Hair and Body Salon.
Lakeside Laundry will include 14 coin-operated washers of various sizes and 14 dryers. But the equipment is nothing like you might find at home.
“The average home washer is probably a 12-to-15 pounder,” explains Louis. “The smallest we have are 18-to-20 pounders. We also have seven 25-pounders, five 30-pounders and two 45-pounders.
“And we have a 60-pounder on the way. A lot of hotels have 60- or 75-pounders.”
Pounds, Louis explains, describe the wet weight of clothes a machine can hold.
The Coulombes recognized early customers didn’t want to be spending an afternoon doing their laundry. The large-volume washers will allow for fewer wash loads and the fast-spin dryers will reduce visit times as well.
For patrons who would rather drop off the laundry and let someone else look after it, Lakeside will provide that service as well.
“We’ll offer the fluff and fold and we want to bring in an ironing press,” said Louis. “We want to be able to press shirts and pants. We’ll also have the pick-up and drop-off for the dry cleaner.”
The endeavour is a family business in every sense of the word: The Coulombes’ five tween and teenage children are participants and partners in the venture.
“We took a sabbatical from the work I was doing and travelled to Mexico and Belize and just took a rest,” says Louis of the family’s journey to Osoyoos.
That sojourn south started with a shorter visit to the Grand Canyon in Arizona but quickly became a year-long adventure — and not surprisingly involved a lot of visits to laundromats.
“When we got back, we were looking for a piece of land and a friend of mine in Kelowna said, ‘Osoyoos needs a laundromat,’ ” he recalls. “That Sunday we talked about it and prayed about and it all just came together.”
Undertaking the venture as a family is nothing new for the Coulombes.
“It’s been that way a lot along the way — we do a lot of things as a family,” says Louis. “We enjoy each other’s company.”
Including the children in their business dealings has allowed Louis and Nicole to provide skillsets unusual for most teens coming out of school.
“My daughter learned early how to keep books,” says Louis. “When she was 12 she followed along as we kept our books and took to Sage pretty early on. And Liam has been involved in the business development. He participated in all the development discussions and meetings we had in the community.”
Building on his experience as an organizational coach, Louis explains further his ambition.
“The most desired skill out there is still that ability to navigate personal relationships, both at home and at work,” he explains. “So the kids who have that upbringing to manage different age groups, different environments and have the confidence and flexibility to navigate different environments, they just do better.”
Liam sits in with his father as we talk about the new business venture. His contribution is to affirm his father’s analysis, adding that he’s learned about the various trades involved in the renovation and has contributed to the paper keeping horse as well.
“I enjoy the manual labour and keeping my hands busy,” Liam says. He graduated from secondary school last June — the Coulombe children are home-schooled — and took a year off to “explore his options.”
“I look forward to any project that has to do with people and family. I’ve enjoyed the whole experience,” he says.
The laundromat is a bit of a detour for the Coulombes, a situation Louis describes as “neutral” following the “highly charged” team and couples coaching he has undertaken through much of his adult life.
But he’s excited for the prospects — especially as they relate to his children.
“The kids are old enough now that everything we do financially affects them and affects their future to some degree,” he says. “It requires their investment, at least in support, so they’re part of the decision-making process.”