The 44-year-old Pell City resident owns two coin laundry businesses in Anniston, both of them acquired from previous ownership.
That means when Barrett goes off to work, he’s not just chief cook and bottle washer, but also is responsible for rebranding his businesses so that Anniston-area coin laundry customers know where they’re going.
The businesses go by the names Washin Golden Springs and Washin Anniston — the former is in a shopping center at the base of the Greenbrier Dear Road hill, the latter is in the old shopping center that fills the 800 block of Quintard.
He also owns a location in Attalla.
On a practical level, Barrett’s responsibilities mean he’s never far from his tool belt. But it’s a comfortable fit, because back in his native Canada his palette of skills included those required for industrial electrical work, home renovation and home energy systems.
Some of that work brought him to Alabama, which is where he and his wife settled.
He entered the coin laundry business after more than a year of research, opening his Attalla store in July 2009.
Now he sees himself as a reseller of utilities.
“I take water and gas and power and package it for people to borrow for a certain use,” Barrett said.
His work schedule consists of lots of 12-hour days every week, mainly because he’s immersed in the renovation of his Greenbrier store to make it just as inviting as his Quintard location. The work keeps him at the store constantly as he notices traffic patterns around the washers and dryers, learning what longtime regular customers like and what they don’t.
“Really, (at) this store, it’s understanding the flow of people,” he said.
While the challenge at the Greenbrier coin laundry will be to modernize and improve while the business is in use, the situation last spring on Quintard was different.
A complete renovation had to be carried out prior to opening up to customers in July.
“We went in and gutted the whole thing,” he said.
The result was a bright and pleasant area for the customer to perform what’s usually a chore, at best.
Barrett is quick to point to the large front window, unobstructed by furnishings or large signs. That’s to promote a feeling of security through visibility in a location that has no attendant.
He was also happy to install a small play area for children.
“If you’re standing there folding your laundry, the last thing you want to worry about is your kid running out into the street,” he said.
A box for comments written on paper and a telephone number enable his customers to deliver compliments or complaints, as does as a website, washinanniston.com, which links to Barrett’s other coin-laundry locations.
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