New York City is the best place to live in the entire world…until it isn’t. Until lugging five bags of groceries seven blocks home from the supermarket turns into an Ironman-like competition, and until the thought of shlepping ten pounds of overdue laundry to the cleaners feels as insurmountable as Mt. Everest. Well, for those of you in the Brooklyn Heights vicinity, the latter just got a wee bit easier, thanks to SpotlessCity.com, a new service that lets people find every dry cleaner and laundromat in their area, and schedule pickups & deliveries from the cleaner of their choice directly through the site.
Co-Founder and CEO Sonny Bajwa, a Park Slope resident, came up with the idea for Spotless City after realizing that the chores that often fell to his wife (grocery shopping and ordering dinner) could be achieved on her laptop computer, while one of his main responsibilities (dropping off the dry cleaning) required lugging laundry down the street in often treacherous weather conditions. Bajwa found himself wondering, “Why can’t I take care of this online, too?”
And so, following a period of research and fundraising, Bajwa and his Brooklyn-based team kicked off Spotless City late last year in Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, and DUMBO. “The response we’ve received so far has been great,” he said via e-mail. “Especially from the folks in brownstones and townhouses. They have lovely homes, but they’ve been telling us our service is a life-saver since they don’t have doormen.”
Bajwa plans to expand Spotless City to other parts of Brooklyn, and eventually throughout New York City. Pickups and deliveries scheduled on his site are free; the customer pays the exact same amount as if they had dropped the items off themselves. Each cleaner on Spotless City pays a small subscription fee to participate in the site, which Bajwa says gets thousands of weekly page views and increased orders each day.
“We’re not competing with local dry cleaners,” Bajwa clarified. “We’re partnering with them.”
And if that means making them feel more comfortable, Bajwa is all for it. After initially failing to make inroads with the large number of Korean-owned dry cleaners, Bajwa recruited a Korean-American friend to come along on his next “research trip.”
“Before we knew it, he was chatting it up with the dry cleaners in Korean, shaking hands with them, and we got all the feedback we wanted,” he recalled.
Bajwa hopes Spotless City will eventually have a presence in other cities around the country, like Washington, DC or San Francisco, where the unique challenges of city living are similar to those in New York. He’s betting people will have just as much dirty laundry—which, if news headlines are any indication, isn’t much of a gamble at all.