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The storefront of the Patterson Park Dry Cleaners and Laundry on E. Fayette St. (Photo by Roberto Alejandro)

Louis Monk spent much of the past year growing the service offerings of the Patterson Park Dry Cleaners and Laundry, a business he purchased and took over last December. Running the laundromat has provided Monk with a crash course on how multiple revenue streams can buoy a business in difficult circumstances and allow helping neighbors in need.

Monk, whose background is in recruiting and sales, said he wanted to go into business for himself for some time. “I knew I wanted to do something, but I didn’t know what it was,” Monk said. “So when this came up I was like, that’s just kind of a sign.”

Monk purchased the laundromat from the previous owner and added dry cleaning pick-up and delivery to the business’s offerings. “The dry cleaning is going to be the key, because there’s no overhead,” said Monk of the operation. The dry cleaning is outsourced, allowing Monk to be the face to his customers without requiring the capital and operating costs of all the necessary equipment.

Because there are many small business operators – daycare providers or home healthcare aids – in the area but no copy-centers, Monk offers copying and fax services, noting that many residents rely on him to get their time-sheets in on-time. “These are the ways I generate more revenue,” said Monk of the strategy. “Multiple streams of income.”

Those various streams are a necessity for a small business in a neighborhood where residents cannot afford regular laundry service, which is competing with a chain laundromat nearby, and is fighting stereotypes about Black-owned businesses. “On one hand I’m proud to be a Black small business owner, and I love it and I love the neighborhood, but on the other hand it seems like it’s kind of hard because there’s a perception out there where people think that just because you’re a Black small business owner that you’re not going to be as good as mainstream guys,” said Monk.

Louis Monk, owner and operator of Patterson Park Dry Cleaners and Laundry on E. Fayette St. (Photo by Roberto Alejandro)

To overcome challenges such as these, Monk has enlisted his sales background, reaching out to nearby luxury developments to establish regular dry cleaning delivery, and fold and wash services.

These relationships and additional services are the foundation for the assistance he gives to those in his community.  To this end, Monk has made arrangements for students attending some of the area schools to get discounted laundry services. “I don’t want to be an excuse where you don’t come to school,” said Monk. “How could I own a laundromat in good faith and you go to school with dirty clothes?”

For customers who cannot pay full price, Monk puts his quarters into the machines so they can finish their laundry, believing he will get the quarters back at the end of the night and that the additional revenue streams will make up the difference. “I don’t get that many people where I think it’s going to be a big deal, and I get to sleep good at night too, knowing that I helped somebody out,” said Monk.

ralejandro@afro.com