Before I launch into a silly story, let me start with an endorsement: After celebrating the impending arrival of a new laundromat on Franklin and Park in December, a commenter turned me on to the excellent, unexpected, brand-new laundromat in the basement of the old Jewish Hospital complex off St. Marks. It's certainly out-of-the-way, and the entrance kind of makes you think "members only poker club," but inside there are brand-new machines, including monster 5-load washers, and a friendly staff who will do your laundry for you by the pound (I've never done this so I don't know if the prices are reasonable, but I assume they are). The DIY prices are great: 2 bucks for a double load, 3 bucks for a triple load, etc, and drying costs 25 cents for 8 minutes.
The only catch is that the machines only take a "cashcard" that you purchase for five nonrefundable dollars your first time through the door. Instinctively, this drives me crazy (why can't I just swipe my friggin' credit card if we're going to get all high-tech about it!), but after a little thought, I decided it was a good commitment device. After all, are you really going to drag all your laundry out of there and up the street to the place at Franklin and St. John's in protest once you've lugged it all there? No. And once you've bought the card, you're going to keep coming back because a) you've most likely got some money still on it (the machines only take $5, $10, and $20 bills) and b) you paid $5 bucks for the stupid card! So despite my initial gripe, I salute them for a clever piece of customer retention. The place also sports a pair of flatscreen TVs (usually playing sports, though I sat through an episode of "Dora the Explorer" on a Saturday morning), and a few comfy chairs, which are handy if you decided to stick around and watch your laundry spin.
So check out this laundromat, especially if you live closer to Atlantic than Franklin. The following tale should in no way keep you from doing so, because I'm convinced it was an isolated incident.
I never hang out to watch my laundry, because I assume most people don't want a pile of grungy wet t-shirts, but today I realized that a clever thief could (and did) find a way to take advantage of my absence. I tossed my wet clothes into three adjacent dryers, fired them all up for 40 minutes, and sauntered off to grab some junk food at my local bodega. When I returned, my laundry, still wet, was sitting in the pair of dryers NEXT to the ones I'd plunked it in! I'd dawdled on my way so the crafty knave was long gone, and a pleasant young woman had just put her laundry into what had once been my dryers. And there I was, hoodwinked, robbed of $2.50 and 40 minutes of my time.
Feeling supremely stupid, I stalked over to the counter and asked the suprised attendant if she'd seen the criminal in action, which of course she hadn't. As a testament to the good nature of the ownership, she re-programmed the dryers for me free of charge, over my protestations (it wasn't her fault, after all). I realized at this point I had turned into "that stuck-up kid who's new to the city" . . . I think the other patrons were waiting for me to say something like "well, where I come from, we believe in fairness!" before stomping out in tears. The second time, I stuck around with my book and watched my drawers tumble like a hawk.
On the way home, I noticed the sign (above) advertising the St. Marks wing of the old hospital as a potential supermarket space. I like the idea--it seems like the folks in charge of redeveloping the place are looking to create a mini-community on the site, with basic commercial spaces to complement the residences. With the nearest true supermarkets at either Eastern Parkway or Fulton Street, a savvy grocer could tap the growing population of the old hospital, as well as the rising new condos and rental units in the former warehouses on Bergen and Dean.