Laundromats Get Creative During Coin Shortage: 'Can't Make Change, Can't Make Money'

Quarters
Photo credit iStock/Getty Images
By WBBM Newsradio 780 AM & 105.9 FM

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — When quarters and other coins started disappearing from circulation a few months ago, laundromats in Chicago and elsewhere had to make some changes. 

As the head of the Oak Brook Terrace-based Coin Laundry Association put it, they had to “turn on a dime.”

The trade organization has about 200 members in the Chicago area and 2,000 nationwide.

Association President Brian Wallace says says laundromats have had to get creative to keep quarters in stock. One owner in New Jersey took to Facebook to ask for help and offered to turn change into cash.

“While he had way more pennies, nickels and dimes than he could ever use, he certainly got enough quarters from his friends and family to stretch him another couple of weeks,” Wallace says.

In another instance, a laundry owner in northern Iowa took a road trip to Omaha, where a friend in the industry happened to have a surplus of quarters.

“If we can’t make change, we can’t make money,” Wallace said.

Even before the pandemic, many coin laundries were moving toward alternative forms of payment. Wallace says COVID has accelerated the trend.

He says there will always be customers who need to use coins, however.