This Former Hedge Fund Analyst Wants to Launder Your Clothes

DashLocker spreads in NYC

Originally, DashLocker built storefront locations—a model that was great for marketing opportunities (stores are sleek little cubbies covered with AstroTurf and bearing DashLocker’s eye-catching logo) but which also meant rent to pay. These days, Hennessy’s strategy is to put lockers directly into non-doorman apartment buildings, usually in basements or mailbox nooks. “My ideal building is the biggest one I can find, with an elevator and without a doorman,” Hennessy says. “What amenity does a non-doorman building have? Nothing.”

Putting lockers in apartment buildings not only gives landlords an amenity that appeals to tenants, it gives Hennessy a revenue-generating space rent-free—no mean feat in a town where commercial rents can run $65 a square foot. DashLocker has expanded into 41 apartment buildings to date.

“People are going to go to the cleaner closest to them, so it makes sense to locate in apartment buildings,” Garzi says. “You don’t have to walk anywhere.”

The downside is that, while New York is still home to plenty of walk-up apartments (600,000 units total by one estimate), they just aren’t being built anymore. Today, developers are putting up luxury high-rises, where doormen take care of petty things like laundry and dry cleaning delivery.

That pretty much eliminates the need for DashLocker, some say. “I think DashLocker’s model would work in buildings with no doormen, but in terms of real estate development, New York is going in the opposite direction,” says Wayne Edelman, owner of Meurice Garment Care and New York’s widely acknowledged godfather of dry cleaning.

“I can’t see moving into one of these condos and being told to bring my laundry to a locker,” Edelman adds. “I’d want to throw it at the concierge.”

Further, Edelman sees DashLocker’s young demographic as problematic, as millennials’ laundry needs tend toward the wash and fold rather than the dry-cleaning variety, thus throwing most of the business over to the lower-margin side.

Challenges aside, Hennessy says he’s in it for the long haul, and claims to be more concerned about a shortage of lockers from his supplier in China than a dearth of expansion opportunities. DashLocker has posted a standing invitation to landlords on its website and is even offering licensing partnerships.

“I view this as a land grab,” Hennessy says. “It’s a green field out there.”

It’s a good thing there’s money in removing grass stains. 

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