Rather than trying to figure out how to get customers to come to you, maybe the answer is to go to them instead. Chicago Public Libraries did this with their innovative program that offers story hour in laundromats throughout low-income neighborhoods in the city.

It’s the perfect setting for outreach: bored kids, parents available for large blocks of time and frequency as most do their laundry every week. The librarians bring stories and games to create awareness of the library, demonstrate modeling to the parents and build literacy skills in the children. It is a win-win-win.

The laundromat is an untapped resource for all sorts of other activities that could benefit from the confluence of kids, parents and time. Organizations could offer activities, music lessons or camps, community groups like scouting or 4H could host meetings there, companies could hold focus groups or taste testing with a captive audience or schools could conduct professional development classes like financial literacy or ESL.

The neighborhood laundromat is a hub for a lot more than just washers and dryers. Follow the library’s example and capitalize on a population just waiting for engagement.


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