Success Stories

Garden Hill Laundromat

As the owner-manager of the Garden Hill Laundromat in Garden Hill for the past four years Tannis Wood goes the extra distance in providing excellent service to her customers and they really appreciate it.

"I usually wash clothes for the elders who can't help themselves," Wood explains as an example. "They might call me up and say, "I don't have any money." I just tell them to send it. I try to help as much as I can.

Wood purchased the existing laundromat in Garden Hill in 1998 with the help of a loan from Community Futures Kitayan . She paid off that loan within two years.

There's a big demand for laundromat facilities in the community of 3,200 people, so last winter Wood bought nine washing machines and 12 dryers that the laundromat in Norway House was selling. The machines were only about two years old. Kitayan CFDC provided another loan for this major purchase. With these machines Wood was able to replace and update just about all her original equipment.

She now has 10 washers and 12 dryers – enough dryers but not enough washers. "There's a lot of mud around here, kids get dirty easily," she says. "Sometimes there are three people waiting to get their turn to wash."

When the winter roads are in, Wood gets even more customers coming in from Waasagomach and St. Theresa Point. She figures she needs 20 washers now at minimum – and a bigger building. So she's already got a floor plan drawn up and is looking around for a suitable location. She hopes to expand her business into a larger building sometime in the next two to three years.

Wood hasn't taken any business courses; she's taught herself everything she needs to know along the way and she has learned a lot on the job as well. But having a good head for numbers helps her get the most from her purchasing dollar. She and her husband Ray make regular trips to Winnipeg to buy detergent and other supplies in bulk from places such as Costco. It is too expensive to pay the trucking or air freight costs to have them brought in. And Ray is a plumber – just the kind of expert you need to have close by for a business like a laundromat.

Determination has also helped the 35-year-old Wood accomplish her goals. "Somebody with a good mind can start their own business," she says. "I've got a lot of friends. I don't cheat on anybody. Good honesty, that helps me a lot."

The Garden Hill Laundromat is open six days a week and apart from Wood employs two people part-time.