Equine Laundromat Gives Front Door Service
It's the annual rite of spring for horsemen. No, not the Stoneybrook races or the Pinehurst Matinee races. More like sneaking into the back door of a Laundromat with all the dirty horse sheets and blankets that have accumulated over the winter.
However, horsemen in Moore County no longer have to sneak horse laundry into a Laundromat. They now have their very own "Backdoor" Equine Laundry conveniently located at 305 South East Broad Street behind Harbour Laundry Systems in Southern Pines.
Other Laundromats in the area have designated washers and dryers for horsemen, but David Harbour, proprietor of Harbour Laundry Systems, is the first to offer an exclusive equine laundry.
Harbour has wanted to offer a laundry area exclusively for horsemen for a long time. He stopped allowing horsemen into the front laundry area 10 years ago after he lost regular customers because they objected to the horse business.
Harbour had an extra room that was being used as a lounge where he now has installed state-of-the-art washers and dryers. Harbour added a back door with parking outside so horsemen can easily access the laundry area. There is also a prep area outside with a fence rail to hang sheets and blankets, and a hose to knock off dirt.
"I welcome horse people," says Harbour. "They can park and come straight in without having to sneak in anymore. We could care less how much horse or dog hair there is on items. My equipment will suck the hair right off."
Harbour has had a lot of encouragement from family members. Wife Tracey, who is the administrator of the Surgery Center of Pinehurst, is Mickey and Marion Walsh's daughter.
In fact, photos of the late Mickey Walsh (Tracey's grandfather) adorn the walls of the equine laundromat along with photos of jockey Tommy Walsh in the winner's circle with Artie Schiller.
The backdoor laundry is equipped with one 80-pound washer (which horsemen may take note is called the "Thoroughbred") a 50-pound and a 20-pound washer. There is an 80-pound dryer and four 50 pound dryers.
"I'm trying to offer an affordable service," says Harbour. "Someone can do three blankets in the 80-pound machine for $7."
The 40-pound washer costs $4.25 and the 20-pound washer cost is $2.25. Each takes about a half hour to run. There is also a full-service wash, dry and fold service available for $1.25 a pound.
"We think of ourselves as a
full-service coin-operated Laundromat rather than a self-service Laundromat. There are attendants to help if someone needs soap. Ruth Monroe is the manager. She does everything, I just wash the windows."
Teri Westmoreland of Pinehurst was an early customer, trying out one of the smaller washing machines on a saddle pad for an Outback saddle. Westmoreland held up a spotlessly clean yellow pad and said, "It came out beautifully clean and fluffy with no hair on it. The machines are so nice. The washers have a hot, warm and cold setting, which is convenient. We don't have to worry about getting horse hair on other people's clothing."
Third-Generation Lonely Repairman
Harbour's family started out in the Laundromat business in the early 1960s in Sanford and Pinehurst. The Laundromat was secondary to a Maytag sales and service business that Harbour's father and grandfather ran. They eventually got out of the sales and service business and concentrated on the Laundromat business. Harbour's parents retired in 1991.
When David, who grew up in Cameron, graduated from college, he joined the family business. Eventually, David bought the Pinehurst and Southern Pines business and his sister, Jane Harbour Ethridge, took over the Sanford business.
Harbour has expanded the business over the years and now also has a Laundromat in Raeford.
"Our Laundromats are bigger than most. We've always been different bigger, brighter, and cleaner," says Harbour.
"We have a friendly, helping people philosophy. As we have expanded over the years, I've thought about offering the equine business. I knew there was a need. I'm tickled to death how it turned out. If people come and try it, they'll be tickled too."
The Equine Backdoor Laundry is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, year-round with the exception of Christmas?
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