Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 4:18 PM on Wednesday, December 14, 2011

AP residents ask for Laundromat

Business owner Kat Schmidt plans to deliver far more in Bubbles, Bath and Beyond

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Photographer: McKibben Jackinsky, Homer NewsPhoto provided

Kat Schmidt, owner of Bubbles, Bath and Beyond, prepares the espresso and deli area in preparation for next month's opening. The business includes a Laundromat, showers, playroom and meeting room and is located along the Sterling Highway in Anchor Point in a building constructed by Beachy Construction of Homer.

Opening an Anchor Point car wash along the Sterling Highway was Kat Schmidt's original idea.

Responding to requests from the community, however, Schmidt has shifted gears and shortly after the first of the year will open Bubbles, Bath and Beyond.

"The community came to me and said that what we really need is a Laundromat," said Schmidt.

To underscore that need, Schmidt noted that a lot of people in the area "don't have water, period."

Now, the equipment Schmidt had in preparation for opening a car wash is in storage and she is busy this week putting finishing touches on the new business.

The 3,050-square-foot building was constructed by Beachy Construction of Homer. Inside, laundry can be done in Speed Queen washers capable of handling loads weighing from 20 to 60 pounds, with per-load costs as low as $5.

The larger machines can wash up to four sleeping bags at a time.

A bank of 14 dryers faces the washers.

Like the washing machines, the dryer cycles can be adjusted to accommodate specific fabric needs.

"Anybody that stocks up on laundry or wants to do all the washing at once can do it," said Schmidt.

There are four showers, including one that is handicap accessible and roomy enough families. Laundry and showers are paid for by using a refillable card.

While adults are washing and drying laundry, youngsters can enjoy a children's playroom. It has a play rug, two large flat-screen televisions and two Wiis to keep little ones occupied.

Next to the playroom is a meeting room, complete with a fax machine already installed and a color printer due to arrive soon.

A 50-inch plasma television has been installed in the main room. An Internet café that includes two Macbooks and WiFi is available. A counter with stools defines the espresso, ice cream and, eventually, a deli area.

A tanning machine has been installed to help take the edge off winter.

And there is lots of parking.

Formerly of Colorado, Schmidt has called Anchor Point home since 1999, with the exception of a two-year hiatus when she returned to Colorado.

She has four sons, ranging in age from 5 to 23.

"When I first moved to town, there was a Laundromat, but it was only open the first year or two I was here," said Schmidt of The Water Hole, a combination restaurant, Laundromat and showers.

Cheryl Jolly of Anchor Point managed The Water Hole then and is working for Schmidt now.

"I worked there when I was in high school and then left," Jolly told the Homer News.

While she is reluctant to disclose exactly how many years ago that was, Jolly could even remember where the Laundromat before that one was located.

"It was right across the parking lot from the old fire station and the community center, where we used to have movies every Friday night," she said. "That was a long time ago."

The card system Schmidt has installed makes use of the machines and paying for the showers less confusing. It also has an additional surprise.

"One neat thing I implemented was software that allows every 50th washer and dryer load to be free," said Schmidt.

"It randomly spits it out there, so it's a surprise for every person. It's not the 50th per person. It's like 'dryer roulette.'"

Furnishing for Bubbles, Bath and Beyond — tables, chairs, shelves and desks — came from Blackbeary Bog in Homer.

Throughout Bubbles, Bath and Beyond, Schmidt has kept her eye trained on ensuring handicap accessibility.

Laundry detergent and fabric softener have been placed at the appropriate height for someone in a wheelchair. Bathrooms also are designed accordingly.

For now, Schmidt's crew includes herself and Jolly. However, she plans to add one, if not two other employees once the business doors open early in January.

Although Schmidt hasn't forgotten her dream of opening a car wash, for now she is focused on taking things one step at a time.

Bubbles, Bath and Beyond's hours of operation will be 9 a.m.-8 p.m., seven days a week.

For more information, call 235-1929.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.