The Best Washing Machines On Planet Earth… Seriously
By Julie Horner
“A laundromat is like a window into the soul of a community,” entrepreneur and longtime “laundry man” Brandon Parker said. “It’s about regular people coming to do this mundane chore all in the same place.” He sees it like cooking a big meal for a family gathering. “People come in with their friends and their dogs — it’s daily life — so making this a really comforting, pleasant place to be is a rad thing.”
The Village Wash, a familiar sight on Highway 9 in Boulder Creek, is now called “The Mat.” The space is open, bright, and clean. Parker has replaced the plumbing, the electrical, and the septic system. “It’s industrial grade everything,” Parker said. He finds inspiration from anything technical. “This to me is the most beautiful thing in the world,” pointing to freshly installed pipe and fittings. The original plumbing “was a nightmare from the 50s,” he said. With the drop ceiling removed and the walls stripped back to the original brick, he said, “the bones of this place are so industrial, so epic now. So much easier to work on and take care of.”
A serious investment to finance, he’s put his entire life savings into the project. “I’m excited and nervous,” he said. He’s not alone. There’s renewed energy in the San Lorenzo Valley with businesses like The Sawmill, Hooligan Smoke Club, and others making similar all-or-nothing investments. “The last months feel like we’ve lost everything, like a piece of your soul has been cast away,” Parker said. So what’s left is letting go. “There’s a special community here, people are going harder and doing more and rebuilding together; people are on board with that, like we’re all connected in that way.”
The property has been in the family since 1974. “My parents came here in 1967, in the Summer of Love, thought they’d found a Garden of Eden in Boulder Creek.” Monty and Sherry Parker started the Turquoise Nugget and Jack’s Country Store in downtown Boulder Creek. Parker’s grandfather, Harold Sanborn, was a master plasterer and worked on Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Harold and his wife Pearl moved up to Boulder Creek and started the laundromat in 1974. Soon the whole family worked there. Parker remembers grandma Pearl sitting him up on the counter to teach him how to count using quarters meant for the machines. “This place has a very special place in my heart, so that’s why I’m going for it.”
Parker and fiancee, Erin Hexen, move into the future together with the endeavor.
Because he grew up in a laundromat, he knows all the challenges. The heat, the quarters getting jammed in machines, machines not turning on, nowhere to sit — The Mat is what a laundromat should be. “The laundry industry has been stuck in the 60s with few technological advances,” he said. Now there will be music playing and air conditioning. And the wifi will work.
According to Parker, the average person spends 8 hours per month doing laundry. The Mat is on the leading edge of app-based laundromats in the Santa Cruz Mountains with hyper-efficient Speed Queen® machines with Quantum® Touch. You can pay with cash, credit card, or your phone. The app tells you which machines are available and how much time is left on a load. “The new machines are so much faster and stronger than the machines we used to have,” Parker said. “You can do all your laundry in an hour…it’s going to be a beautiful thing.”
Veteran attendants Karen Davenport and Tom Wester will be on hand to fluff and fold. The service in the past has been underutilized, Parker said, but in his view, it’s one of the cheapest things you can do to feel like royalty.
With a grand opening in October, they will initially be offering free wash for CZU fire families.
@BoulderCreekLaundry | 831-338-9966
Open 7:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Featured photo of Brandon Parker and Erin Hexen at The Mat by Jon Stallings