The Pala Tribe has opened its own long-awaited laundromat, Pala Tubs, for the convenience of not only tribal members but residents of the surrounding community.
Pala Tubs, located a block away from Pala Casino on Pala Mission Road, was opened a little over three weeks ago by Pala Tribe Chairman Robert Smith, who said he has been wanting to open a laundromat on the reservation for years.
Smith dreamed of being able to offer the service to his community members so they wouldn’t be inconvenienced by having to drive out of town to keep their clothes clean.
When Smith inherited land from one of his relatives, he put the land to use by building the air-conditioned laundromat, which boasts 20 state-of-the-art washers and dryers, a folding area and chairs and tables for customers to use while waiting.
Luis Herrera, a laundry clerk at Pala Tubs, introduces new customers to the state-of-the-art machines and the prepaid washing card system the machines operate on, which requires that customers prepay for their laundry.
“A lot of our customers used to have to drive to Escondido or Temecula,” Herrera said. He also noted that when customers come in to do their laundry, they have said it saves them time and money.
Pala Tubs is significantly less expensive than commercial operations off the reservation. The charges is only thirty cents per wash cycle, as opposed to up to $1.25 at other laundromats. Customers can also purchase laundry detergent at Pala Tubs and watch television programs while they wait for their loads to finish.
The washing machines at Pala Tubs are energy-efficient and use a significantly lower amount of electricity than older models. The dryers are gas-powered and do not use any electricity.
Smith believes that Pala Tubs is the first laundromat on a Native American reservation and is excited to see the community’s response to the new service.
The number of customers has significantly increased since the opening, said Herrera, who believes that the laundromat will reach full customer potential within the next two or three weeks because of advertising and word of mouth from satisfied customers.
Emma Castaneda, who works on the reservation, said Pala Tubs is beneficial to her work, as she does laundry for her employer. In the past, she has had to take laundry home with her to Escondido and bring it back the next day, but now she is able to do it during her work hours.
Maria Almeida also appreciates the service Pala Tubs offers and likes the fact that she does not have to carry around change to do laundry. The prepaid cards are easier, she said.
Both women were impressed with the cleanliness of the facility, the efficiency of the washing machines and dryers and the volume of clothes the machines can handle.
Pala Tubs is open to the public seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.