Saturday, November 7, 2020

New Neighbors

 Introducing a new neighbor in Oakland Mills:

Welcome to the new business in the Oakland Mills Village Center: Laundry Force. It fills the long-open space next to the grocery store. That space has languished ever since the first grocery after the Center remodel (Metro Food Markets) shut down their prepared food operations and walled off that portion on the store. That was quite a while ago. The search for the right business to fill that spot has been long and frustrating.  

Laundry Force is primarily a self-service laundromat, but will also offer a drop-off service for wash, dry and fold. They’ll also provide pick up and delivery. I see that they have some of those impressive double size washers that make washing large comforters a whole lot easier than wrestling them into a small home stackable. 

I wrote in February (“Sometimes a Laundromat”) about how requests for a laundromat were received by some in Oakland Mills.

To them a laundromat and a dollar store were the equivalent of living in “the wrong part of town.” It was almost a “what will people think?” sort of response.

When is a laundromat not a laundromat? When it’s seen as a class marker instead of providing a needed service.

I think there are far too many instances where people have actual needs that aren’t being met and those of us with privilege just don’t get it. Where some imagine a laundromat with horror - - there goes the neighborhood - - for others it would make the realities of daily life significantly less of a burden. And we don’t see that.

I attended an online town hall about Oakland Mills the other evening hosted by the folks at OMO. A great group of people turned out (tuned in) to discuss the strong points of our village and its challenges. Over and over again there seemed to be a chasm between the positive experiences of living in our community and the metrics that the outside world insists upon using to judge who we are. And I suppose that for the people who like to get judgy about Oakland Mills, a laundromat is just another thing to roll one’s eyes at. 

I heard several people say that if we could just get people here, they’d see how great it is. Given the current trend in Howard County to fight for the right to cluster with those who are just like us., that’s a big hurdle to overcome. I think we’d all benefit from exposure to different people and different experiences. That’s the only way to discover whether our preconceived notions have any truth to them. It’s the only way to challenge the innate fear that different is somehow unsafe.

All that being said, the addition of a laundromat is not going to make or break the village center. It will provide a much needed service to people who live here. It fills a long-vacant space that has sorely needed a tenant. You could combine your laundry trip with your grocery shopping at the LA Mart, or grab some coffee and a snack at Dunkin’. 

If we get Ice Rink/Laundromat crossover that would be pretty nifty. We’ll see. 

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