January 26, 2013

Skowhegan auto-dealer family expands to laundry business

Former Butler's Cleaners to be reopened in mid-March by owner of Folsom's Garage

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

SKOWHEGAN -- Need to do a load of laundry and shop for a used car?

click image to enlarge

David Folsom stands inside the closed Butler's Cleaners in Skowhegan on Tuesday. Folsom is planning to reopen the store in mid-March and offer laundry services and a used auto lot.

Staff photo by David Leaming

No problem.

By mid-March all that can be done at the same time, in the same location: the former Butler's Cleaners at 19 Waterville Road.

"I saw that there was definitely a demand for it," said owner David Folsom II, whose family owns and operates Folsom's Garage, an auto salvage yard, repair shop and used car dealership on Rowe Road, south of downtown. "There's only one Laundromat in Skowhegan and it's way up on the other side of town, and Skowhegan is a big apartment community. It's mostly going to be coin laundry -- used cars will be on display outside."

Folsom, 27, said the company sold about 200 used cars in 2011. His grandfather, Dick Folsom, founded the business in 1967.

Butler's Cleaners closed in April 2011 after 40 years in business. At its peak in 2006, the cleaners employed 22 people and moved 4,000 pounds of commercial laundry a day.

Folsom said he plans to sell the dry-cleaning equipment and open that portion of the former cleaners, about 3,000 square feet of the 7,500-square-foot building, as a commercial rental. He said the building came with a video security system with 40 cameras inside and outside the building, with links to a secure Internet site.

The coin-operated laundry will house 20 clothes dryers and 25 washing machines. He said he hopes to hire a couple of people this summer for wash and fold, drop-off and pick-up service.

"We were originally looking for a place in-town to put our cars so people could see them," he said. "This is the most traffic counts of anyplace in Skowhegan, averaging about 96,000 cars and trucks every month."

Folsom said he purchased the building and large parking lot in a bank foreclosure auction. He would not disclose the sale price.

He is a 2004 Skowhegan Area High School graduate and has a two-year degree in business studies from Husson College. He and his wife, Bobbi, have a 6-month-old daughter.

"It's always a gamble buying a business," Folsom said. "But I think it's a pretty safe one; this isn't a real risky venture. We were looking for a high-visibility location, and this is it."

Doug Harlow -- 612-2367
dharlow@centralmaine.com

 

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