About two years ago, I visited this wash for the first time, having been motivated by a free-wash coupon given to me by the dealership where I had my car serviced. I knew of the existence of the wash, one location of a multi-site chain of express exteriors, but it never stuck in my mind as it was somewhat hidden behind a gas station/convenience store. The coupon presented an opportunity to compare the services I receive from my favorite express — considerably further away from my home — with what the “new guys” had to offer.

I’d never ventured onto the premises previously because of what I had perceived to be access challenges. My impression was that entry to the wash was possible only from one street and then only from south-flowing traffic. Greater familiarity with the site following my first visit revealed that one could indeed gain access from the east-west roadway via a lane running between a fast-food restaurant and an auto-parts store. The sign marking this entrance to the car wash is of the same size and type as a standard election yard sign, examples of which can currently be found in virtually every neighborhood. If you weren’t looking for it, chances are you would not see it.

With my access concerns dampened, I’ve become somewhat of a regular customer.

On occasion, when I happen to be in the neighborhood, I still drop in at my favorite express, which I believe produces a marginally dryer car. But there is no longer a need for me to travel out of my way to get my car washed because the tunnel experience from one wash to the other is virtually indistinguishable — and the cost is exactly the same.

None of this would have happened had it not been for the free-wash coupon from the dealership. And “giving something to get something” is not the only lesson to be drawn from the experience. Visibility, something this wash is sorely in need of, is the first thing that comes to mind. Tucked behind that gas station/c-store, it virtually blends into the background. There is nothing that stands out, nothing that is memorable. Every wash needs to be seen and, hopefully, remembered.

Its inconspicuous nature is, no doubt, due in part to the dearth of signage. The building itself could do with a tower to show its presence above its surroundings and carry car-wash signage. The pitiful signage along the east-west roadway is not worth mentioning. Possibly municipal ordinances restrict the size and location of signage, but surely, we can do better than a piece of cardboard held up between two metal stakes.

The wash is not shy about showing its appreciation for its customers. Two weeks ago, I purchased the top wash and was rewarded with a coupon for a free wash. This was not a rain guarantee, just a free wash good for 14 days. Last Sunday, I availed myself of the offer. Sweet!

In this issue, Ilene Chiarella’s name appears for the last time in the masthead. Retirement comes to all of us, and for Ilene it is well deserved. Ilene has worked in our art department for 27 years, most recently as art director for Auto Laundry News as well as other E.W. Williams publications.

She managed to keep production flow at even keel despite editorial and advertising making never-ending adjustments and changes. We wish Ilene a happy retirement. We’ll miss her.