Kmart comes clean with plans for convenient new laundromat

Attention Kmart shoppers: the beleaguered bargain retailer is out to prove it is far from washed up. The people who brought us the Blue Light Special are now introducing Kwash (pronounced "k" wash) a full-service laundromat attached to a Kmart store in Iowa City, a college town catering to a young, wired, multi-tasking generation.

When you think about it, the idea is brilliant. Retailers have already added Starbucks, snack bars,McDonald's and bank branches to their mix, by adding a laundromat we could actually live on the premises. I call aisle nine.

Kmart's Iowa City test site is scheduled for a grand opening on June 5 and plans to give the people what they want -- convenience, service and lots of really big loaders. Boasting 31 washers and 30 dryers (do some people opt out of drying?), the new facility will also feature free WiFi, wash and fold service, a children's play area, laundry-specific merchandise sold within the facility, an attendant on duty and a full-service Kmart check out register. Throw in the towels, dash through the store, check out at the laundry counter. It's like that commercial where Kelly Ripa glides through a perfect house thanks to her appliances ... but I digress.

Efficient types can surf while waiting for the spin cycle at Kwash to order items from inside the store. Purchases will be ready for pick up in an hour. "(It's) so you can shop while you wash," said Kim Freely, a Kmart spokesperson told the Iowa City Press-Citizen, "You can do all of your shopping right there and after an hour, you can pick it up."

Asked whether the new facility is looking to compete through pricing or convenience, Chris Brathwaite, a spokesperson for Kmart, told WalletPop the answer is a little of both. Brathwaite said Kwash will have the largest loaders in the area, ranging in size from 18 pounds, to 30, 40, 60, and 80-pound washers, and prices will vary accordingly. For instance, the 30-pound washer will cost $2.97 a load, while the 60-pound washer will be $5.97. He said the rates are competitive, but no one will be able to match the convenience of shopping and getting the laundry done simultaneously. Time is money.

Kwash will also offer the "Wash and Win" program, a type of frequent washer program that will yield benefits to regular customers. Coupons forAll and Snuggle products will be available at the grand opening.

Laura Heller, WalletPop writer and former University of Iowa student in the college town says, "It's not such a ridiculous idea at a college [town], where laundromats serve beer and music."

I think it's an idea that could catch on. Can Wal-Wash be far behind?
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