Drop Box Laundry Has 24-Hour Wash-and-Fold Without Human Interaction

By Amy Zimmer on June 20, 2012 7:07am 

DashLocker at 1566 Second Ave. is hoping to change the laundry business.
DashLocker at 1566 Second Ave. is hoping to change the laundry business.
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DNAinfo/Amy Zimmer

YORKVILLE — A 24 hour drop-box is letting Upper East Siders wash their laundry without ever visiting the laundromat.

DashLocker, a new dry cleaning, wash-and-fold laundry and shoe shine service on Second Avenue, lets users in any time of the day or night with a swipe of a credit card.

The revolutionary new service industry — the brainchild of a 27-year-old former banker — lets users drop off and pick up clothes without any interaction with people.

It recently opened its storefront at 1566 Second Ave., between East 81st and 82nd streets. It's the first of four Upper East Side locations that are expected to be up and running by Labor Day, said Robert Hennessy, who left the world of hedge funds to enter the laundry business two years ago.

"The dry cleaning business is normally a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. business, closed on Sundays and short hours on Saturdays," Hennessy said.

"Here you come and swipe 24-hours a day. You register with your credit card and use it to come in just like you go to a Chase ATM at midnight."

Hennessy believes the service will revolutionize the laundry scene, just like ATMs transformed banking. 

There are no washing machines or dry cleaning presses on-site. The store, instead, has 150 automated lockers that you stuff with a special DashLocker bag full of your dirty laundry or dry cleaning, which has a bar code that the company scans to identify the owner. 

Hennessy remembers the difficulty he had scheduling cleaning his clothes when he was getting up early and doing the reverse commute to a hedge fund in Connecticut.

"There are many pick-up and delivery services," Hennessy noted, "but you still have to work around the hours of the dry cleaners.

"We have a lot of people coming in at 10 p.m., 11 p.m. or midnight… You get a lot of folks who do a lot of once a week cleaning like I did when I was in finance — I did it on Saturday. And if I went out of town, I was two weeks behind."

The laundry is picked up every night at 10 p.m. and taken to Long Island City, where DashLocker then works out the logistics, or as Hennessy calls it, "the lockergistics."

From there, laundry goes to Hennessy's laundromat, Wash-o-Matic in East New York, Brooklyn, where they use eco-friendly, non-allergenic detergent.

Shirts that need to be cleaned and pressed are farmed out to Executive Shirts in Farmingdale, Long Island. Dry cleaning goes to Bridgestone Cleaners in Dumbo, which also uses green methods.

Wash-and-fold costs $1.25 a pound and must be a minimum of 12 pounds. To clean and press a shirt costs $2.25. To dry clean a dress costs $9, $6 for a blouse and a shoe shine starts at $9.  

From now until Labor Day, Hennessy said every item is half off.

When clothes are returned, the next day at 10 p.m., the company sends a text message letting you know which locker your clothes are in.

DashLocker's model comes from San Francisco's Laundry Locker, where that company has made great inroads in apartment buildings and parking garages. Hennessy licensed the software from them and Laundry Locker is helping him get his business off the ground.

Hennessy, too, is in talks with landlords — usually of non-doormen buildings — and hopes to be in five to 10 buildings on the East Side this summer.

He is also opening DashLockers at East 90th Street and First Avenue, East 78th Street between Second and Third avenues (which he notes shares a block with three "traditional" dry cleaners), and Lexington Avenue between East 93rd and 94th streets. 

"The Upper East makes sense because the density is great and there are so many singles and young couples," Hennessy said. "The Upper East Side is a microcosm of the city."

He's eying the Upper West Side and Murray Hill as the next possible neighborhoods for DashLocker's expansion.

So far, the reception has been positive.

"Took my laundry to @DashLocker UES @ 1am," tweeted @AustinNelson last week. "Loving it. Can't wait to get it back."

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