CALGARY, Alberta – Sometimes seemingly great small business ideas just aren’t very well thought out. Case in point, a new offering in the convenience sector aptly named Skip the Cleaners. This new series of walk-through laundry kiosks that popped up in 6 locations across downtown Calgary’s +15 network of walkways are struggling to attract and retain clients. While the idea is quite novel, the outfit’s co-founders misjudged the demand for their services.
“It was a hot day last July and I was heading home from helping a buddy build a deck and I stopped to fill-up my 2006 convertible Beetle. I was filthy and in a rush to get my daughter to hockey but my car needed a good wash, so I rushed through the car wash. It wasn’t until I was half way home that I noticed that my clothes were as clean as a whistle, and I realized that I had left my car’s top down! And that’s when the proverbial light bulb went off!” – Andre Hompkins, P.Geo.
Within 3 months of thinking up the idea, the unemployed exploration geologist along with his equally unemployed business partner, a former reservoir engineer with EnKarma Energy, Missy Elliosson, formed the company. The company’s franchise structure allowed the two to give back to fellow unemployed oil and gas professionals with income-earning opportunities. After securing 4 franchise partners within a few weeks, the Skip the Cleaners finally opened its doors on September 15th, 2019.
Here’s how the service works:
- A client approaches the kiosk, engages the Skip the Cleaners attendant to pay for a given package. Mobile payments are also accepted. There are different service levels that include:
- The Liberal: This package starts with the attendants crocodile smile. The client is promised a standard dry clean, but just ends up getting soaked, and much worse for wear. But their hair always looks good and socks are cleaned in such a way that they become so playfully colourful.
- The Middle-Manager: This service is perfect for those who don’t know what they are doing or what they even want. You end up looking like an idiot which perfectly suits the role of those who look busy, but aren’t doing very much.
- The Landman: This is a thorough deep cleaning that includes a standing steam bath that penetrates all clothing and actually sanitizes just beneath the lower epidermis. It is guaranteed to remove any strong lingering scents of alcohol, expensive sushi, and alcohol-induced vomit.
- The client then removes any valuables that aren’t water proof and dons a special face mask.
- It is at this point that the client walks through the kiosk following a white line on the ground as he or she is smothered with dry cleaning agents, a little water, and gently brushed from top to bottom, and side to side.
- Once the cleaning is completed, the client walks between two industrial-sized hot-wind generators that simultaneously blow off the chemicals and dry the subject.
- The client is then free to pickup his or her belongings and is good to go.
A recent client was interviewed in the Thankers Hall kiosk and asked about the experience.
“I’m really surprised that these guys are struggling. I’m a baby boomer and just plain lazy, so not having to drop off and pickup my suits is great! I typically go for the Liberal package which is advertised at $4.99, but for some reason I always end up paying over $60. I think it’s some sort of leisure tax or something like that.” – Igor Emotileady, loyal Skip the Cleaners customer.
To help boost sales and walk-through traffic, the company is looking to increase its service offerings to include salon-type services such as massages, hot-towel shaves, and perms.