Lake Tahoe duo tumbling toward success at Incline laundromat
Special to the Sun
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — A new chapter has unfolded — a clean slate of sorts — for two Incline Village business owners who are improving laundry services on the north-eastern shores of Lake Tahoe one wash-and-dry at a time.
The husband-and-wife duo, John Wyaux and Sheila Van Duyne, took over ownership of Incline Laundry at the Raley’s Shopping Center at the end of September, and they’ve been getting their hands dirty remodeling and revamping the space ever since.
“We were looking for different businesses in Incline and we were drawn to this location combined with the type of business we could provide here,” Van Duyne said. “We’re hoping to make Incline our home in the long run, and this has been a great way to get to know the community.”
In addition to offering free WiFi, 24-hour camera surveillance, flat-screen televisions, environmentally friendly washers and dryers, and a gum ball machine for the kids, the new owners have made a few cosmetic upgrades to the facility, including fresh paint, brighter lights, and an assortment of world clocks that line the walls.
“We noticed there were a lot of people from all around the world coming here, and I’m born overseas myself, so we put the clocks up to reflect those things,” said the Belgium-born Wyaux. “I’ve put a lot of TLC into this place and it’s good to see the before and after, and the feedback from the community has been really positive.”
Parents to 8-month-old twin girls, Van Duyne is also a lawyer running her own practice in Reno while Wyaux is an entrepreneurial jack-of-all-trades having co-founded a handful of businesses in the biggest little city.
“One of the good things about practicing law is that I’m able to work from anywhere as a virtual office,” said the Van Duyne, who checks in on the laundromat a few times a month, leaving day-to-day operations in Wyaux’s hands.
“We divide the responsibilities in that he focuses on the operations, technology and branding and I handle the paperwork and some other tasks,” Van Duyne said, a subtle hint of her Boston accent leaking through. “I’m good at multi-tasking and so is John, and we’ve both run our own businesses before, so it’s not as hard for us to juggle the girls, our careers and this new business.”
It’s clear in the way Van Duyne and Wyaux bounce off one another’s thoughts and ideas while simultaneously bouncing their happy-go-lucky babies in their arms, that they make a good team.
“Communication is number one in owning business together,” Wyaux said. “Plus, when you have kids, you start to see things from a different perspective, and you start wanting to leave something more behind for them, and this is something we can leave behind together.”
As members of the Coin Laundry Association, Wyaux and Van Duyne have benefitted from the ongoing feedback, training and guidance the national not-for-profit network of laundry owners has to offer.
In the future, they’re looking to expand operations with more equipment, additional vending machines, plus pick-up and drop-off services to local college students, vacation rental cleaning services, and perhaps even restaurants.
“College kids — especially in their first year — get caught up in all the classwork and that makes it hard to get everything else done, so we’re going to try to work with the local schools to help the students out with their laundry,” Van Duyne said.
Becoming laundromat owners wasn’t always in the cards for Wyaux and Van Duyne – who were married at Lake Tahoe over a decade ago – but the new venture has already proven its worth in trips to the lake and success in the business.
“You never know where life will take you and you have to be open to whatever opportunities come,” Wyaux said.
Jenny Goldsmith is a North Tahoe-based freelance writer and a former reporter for the Sierra Sun newspaper. Have an idea for a merchant to feature? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.