When Mark and Jamie Strauss moved to Marlinton four years ago, they had a goal – to open a business. It took some time, but the stars aligned and they took ownership of the Marlinton Laundromat in January, changing the name to the Clean Cow.
“My parents have been here eleven years now, and Mark and I would come visit quite frequently when we still lived in Allentown, [Pennsylvania] and we loved the community; loved the area,” Jamie said. “When we decided to move here, it wasn’t enough for us just to live here. We wanted to actually participate and do something positive for the community.”
As they say, sometimes, timing is everything. When the couple saw that the laundromat/thrift store closed, they knew it was the opportunity they had been waiting for.
“The timing just hit and it hit perfectly and it hit with a type of business that is needed in the community,” Jamie said. “We could have tried many other things, but nothing spoke to us. When we saw the laundromat had closed – we knew just by being members of the community – people use the laundromat and use the thrift store. There was a need for both.”
The need for both led Jamie and Mark to keep both parts of the old laundromat intact. They worked to fix the washers and dryers, and organized the thrift store. Just a few weeks after taking ownership, the couple opened for business.
“The community is very receptive and it’s busy in here every day that we’re open,” Mark said. “The customers are very receptive to this and it is a fun time in here for everyone doing their laundry. There is one gentleman who comes in here and plays his guitar while he is doing his laundry. He stays a little longer sometimes and the other customers are very happy and applaud between songs. He is a great asset here. Many people come in here and talk with each other and my wife and me. They are very happy to come in and converse.”
Conversing is great for Jamie, as well, who works from home and is unable to go out in the community as often as she would like.
“I’m loving it because I work from home,” she said. “A lot of my interactions are with the people I work with over the phone, so the days I’m at the store, it’s wonderful to meet different people in the community that I had not met, and I probably would not have met if we had not opened this. It’s just having this presence in the community and it’s a very positive vibe.”
While the Laundromat is the focus of the business, the thrift store is doing very well also.
“The clothes are flying off the rack,” Mark joked. “It’s doing well. We still take donations, though we’re not taking children’s or baby clothes donations at this time. The FRN specializes in children and we feel that they should have all that.”
The thrift shop also accepts donations of household items, books and accessories.
The history of the building and Jamie’s affinity for a certain mammal led to the name Clean Cow.
“It’s really funny,” Jamie said. “I’ve always loved cows. I can’t explain it. I just think they are so cute, and I don’t think they ever lose their cuteness. Mark would laugh at me, especially since we moved here. When we were driving by the farms, I would always say, ‘I want a cow’ and he said, ‘cows are dirty, Jamie. You aren’t going to be able to have a cow.’ So I said, ‘when I get my cow, it will be a clean cow.’
“Then, when we bought the laundromat, we found out it had been the Pocahontas Dairy,” she continued. “So now I have my Clean Cow. I wasn’t specific. I just thought I was going to have a clean cow and now I do.”
Along with the coin laundry services, the Clean Cow offers drop-off service for those who want wash and fold, as well as dry cleaning drop-off. Peter Pan Dry Cleaners in Elkins will pick up and drop-off dry cleaning every Saturday.
The Clean Cow is open Monday, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m; Tuesday, 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org