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The Business of Convenience

Tokyo: convenience store sign

Continuing along the lines of the infrastructure and services you can take for granted – this AM/PM convenience stores has started offering regular clothes washing services. Not high value dry cleaning but washing.

I have no idea whether as a service it is profitable. Given that most Tokyo homes have a washing machine – what makes a clothes washing service (potentially) viable in the context of urban Tokyo?: the frequency and urgency and lack of desire to do the laundry; the prevalence of sole occupancy apartments, a distinct lack of servants, family members who the task can be delegated to; the likelihood of having a clothes dryer in the home; the time it takes to wash and hang clothes; the space to hang clothes – clothes horses are an almost permanent feature of apartments and there’s often not enough room to swing a 9 iron; that items left on the balcony may be dirtied by pollution – Tokyo has major motorways running through the city; the proximity of and already frequent visits to the convenience store itself.

And on the downside: a person’s willingness to carry laundry to a nearby store; cost; the social interaction of handing such a personal item to the store clerk yeah, they’re likely to be not out back sorting the whites clothes from the coloured laughing at the stains on your smalls, but trust is an issue; not being able to retrieve items from the laundry bin to wear one more time.