How Covid closed a car wash landmark
Pearl Brookpark Car Wash almost made it to 5 million washes. Almost. Then Covid came and changed everything at the Cleveland car wash. After more than 50 years of cleaning cars, the 83-year-old owner recently decided to call it quits.
“I want my car as clean as it can be, and that’s what we always strove to do”, tells Dan Spencer Sr. in a candid interview for Cleveland Magazine. The 83-year-old owner of the Pearl Brookpark Car Wash in Cleveland, Ohio made the tough decision to shut his doors. He sold his business to Rainforest, a Northeast Ohio chain. After 57 years of car washing, he was just 66,000 washes away from 5 million cars.
2 cars in a month
The pandemic changed everything. At the height of the lockdown, in april 2020, Pearl Brookpark Car Wash only washed two cars in the whole month. Even after society reopened, things never got as good as they once were. “In 1966, we did 148,000 cars. During COVID, we washed 63,000”, he tells Cleveland Magazine. “Let’s just say we got beat up pretty good.”
While reading the bittersweet interview, you learn a thing or two about service, dedication and finding staff. “One of my problems was people would come into the car wash and steal my help”, says Spencer. “They’d say, ‘Hey, Dan. You know, how’s that boy out there?’ Two, three weeks later, the kid’s gone. Back then, everybody wanted to work.”
The 83-year-old retired entrepreneur is not too enthusiastic about the current state of affairs at many washes. The social aspect is gone as well as the service, he concludes. “You pull in, you stay in your car, you go out — see ya! Nobody wipes them off, nobody vacuums them. You want to vacuum? ‘There’s some vacuums out there, go use them!’”