The American Dream: buy your own laundromat

It turns out that the bad economy is great for coin-op laundromats. Because, though houses with laundry rooms will be foreclosed upon, washing machines and dryers will break and be too expensive to fix, and sometimes, we lose our homes entirely, we still need clean clothes.

Long the refuge for college students, the young creative class, jobless, homeless and others not in possession of a few Whirlpools, laundromats are now flourishing. And the middle class is showing up, too, pride and laundry baskets in hand.

By all appearances, this would be a great time to get into the business of laundry; the Wall Street Journal recently profiled one such man, Brian McChristian, laid off in early 2008 and now running the Austin, Texas Community Coin Laundry; and he's one of the lucky ones. His business is doing well, thanks in part to his efforts to keep his parking lot and facility free of anyone not doing laundry.