TRUCKEE, Calif. — One day in 1983 Mark Lowenstern was flipping through Ski Magazine when a top 10 list caught his eye: the best jobs to have in a ski town. The publication listed part-time jobs such as bartender and car wash owner — gigs that would allow a skier to make some cash and still hit the slopes.
Mark describes it as “bizarre” that a friend wanted to sell his car wash business in Truckee just a few weeks later. Mark, an avid skier and cyclist, jumped on the opportunity. He left Colorado for California and took over Cross Roads Car Wash.
“I never had to ask for work off on powder days,” he said.
Twenty years later Mark still gets on the mountain, biking or skiing and makes it to work at the car wash in Truckee.
NEW AND IMPROVED
Mark has added two bay stations for a total of five self wash and one service station. As Cross Roads has improved during the years, so have the cars pulling through, he said.
“When I first bought the car wash everyone had rusty old Subarus and pick-up trucks,” Mark said with a laugh.
Now it isn’t uncommon for Mark to detail cars worth more than $100,000.
“I think the demographics of Truckee have changed,” he said.
Mark’s favorite part of the job is working on cars for regular customers who he knows take pride in their vehicles. He also likes meeting other customers who enjoy the process of doing it themselves.
“Some people enjoy washing their own cars, or some ask for service, it’s a personal preference,” he said.
Brittani Murray, a stylist at Coupe Sixty One hair studio, recently moved from Bishop and brought her Honda Civic to Cross Roads for a self-wash.
“I like to clean it myself because I feel like I can get what I need done,” Brittani said.
Cross Roads offers self service car wash 24 hours a day and tiered prices for exterior service wash. As an extra incentive for locals, Mark also provides credit toward a car wash with proof of paid downtown Truckee parking.
“I thought it would be a good perk for locals to bring in a downtown parking receipt and give them credit towards a purchase of a car wash,” he said. “It’s not the small town feel when you’re paying for downtown parking.”
Part of being in a small town is what Mark loves most about Truckee.
When his friends from the Bay Area visit him here, they joke that Mark should run for mayor as he seems to know everyone in town.
“It’s because they stop at the car wash!” he tells them.
Washing a car at Cross Roads Car Wash saves a lot more water than one might imagine, Mark said. A constant flow system through filters and water stabilizers uses 90 percent recycled water. Although the final rinse cycle does use fresh water, the total usage per car is only six to eight gallons, Mark said.
“At home people are using 200 gallons with their garden hose.”
On average, Cross Roads uses about 80,000 gallons per month. “We’re very water conscious,” Mark said. “It’s my belief in water conservation.”
The business owner hopes to eventually add solar panels to the roof.
As the owner for two decades, Mark plans to continue upgrading and improving the services at Cross Roads Car Wash.
This summer, touch screen pay stations will be added to each bay station to allow customers to pay via their smart phones.
“I think smart phones are sort of the future,” Mark said. “We’re all used to menu driven computer screens.”
The job may allow him to hit the slopes, but Mark said running the car wash in winter can be the most difficult time of year due to potential freezes. When temperatures drop, the eight soap lines can freeze up quickly. The car wash owner remembers many hectic mornings having to keep the individual bay station doors closed to keep the floors from freezing.
“I would think, ‘Why didn’t I buy a car wash in Florida?!’” he said with a laugh.
Cross Roads Car Wash’s self service is open 24 hours a day. Detailing is offered by appointment and the full service wash is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I thought it would be a good perk for locals to bring in a downtown parking receipt and give them credit towards a purchase of a car wash.”
Cross Roads Car Wash