The national coin shortage has affected many businesses, especially in Western New York. However, one industry has managed to wash their hands of it — at least for now.
"It's an essential business so people need to wash," said Hertel Avenue Coin Laundry attendant Pandora Leak.
Hertel Avenue Coin Laundry owns three laundromats in Buffalo, all of which use coins only and help to keep change in constant rotation.
With that comes some challenges lately, as they've had to monitor for non-customers trying to get change from their slots.
"We have cameras everywhere. We have attendants 24/7," adds Leak. "Just to ensure that the people who come to do laundry have access to coins."
Laundromat owners say every time a customer makes change, a portion of those coins are going back into their machines and business. This keeps the cycle going and helps them curb the coin shortage.
"We're not out of coins, we're open and operating at full speed," said Leak.
They've been using coins since the start of the laundromat business, and that's likely not to change soon.
"A big percentage of my customers don't have credit cards," said Dirty Laundry Owner Debbie Tanner. “So I wanted to make sure that I could serve both populations.”
Tanner says the laundry business is a socioeconomically-driven industry and therefore cannot be completely cashless.
"I've had a spike in card use," adds Tanner. "I attribute that to people knowing there is a coin shortage. I can see my coins diminishing more so than in normal times."
A small percentage of Tanner's machines do take cards for payment and she plans to add more in the event the coin shortage continues. Some laundromats are also switching to offering a reloadable wash card to make payments easier.