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.


I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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