- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

EXETER, Pa. (AP) - Having been in the car-washing business for 45 years, Peter Franco has seen the ups and downs in his industry.

But this winter has been on pace to go down as “miserable” on his scale of “good-bad-miserable.”

“I’m in the business 45 years and this is the worst winter I’ve ever had so far,” said Franco, owner of Mr. Kleen Kar Wash in Exeter. “The worst, by far.”

However, one stretch of warm weather provided a brief glimpse as to why vacationers look forward to the summer, while car-washing businesses eagerly await the winter.

“Winter is definitely the busiest time of the year in the car-washing business in this (area),” Franco said.

As temperatures peaked to 45-plus degrees during the weekend, vehicles lined up by the dozen outside car washes. It was finally time for the grime, filth and salt that had accumulated over the past few months to be washed off.

Franco said the weekend warm-up led to about 500 vehicles being washed at his business Saturday, most customers taking advantage of his $9 inside-and-out full service deal. Comparatively, the 500 cars crushed the 275 to 300 cars that would usually be washed on a “very good” Saturday in the summer, Franco said.

Franco estimated his business brought in as much money from last Monday until Sunday, as it did the entire month of January.

“That’s how bad the weather has been,” Franco said.

Jerry Orloski, owner of Orloski’s Car Wash & Lube Shop on Mundy Street, echoed Franco’s remarks about slow business turning around starting Wednesday.

While Orloski could not quantify how many cars were washed in that time, he said the number was “hundreds and hundreds,” apparent by the consistent line of vehicles parading through his car wash Saturday afternoon.

“This was probably one of the busiest weekends we’ve had since last winter,” Orloski said.

Both car wash owners attributed the successful weekend to sunny skies and 40-plus degree temperatures, but more so, the fact that many drivers had not washed their car in months, leading to quite the unappealing visual.

“The cold, dry weather produces dirtier cars,” Orloski said. “And the cars are really, really dirty right now and the people just can’t stand it - that’s what my customers tell me.”

According to AccuWeather, the Wilkes-Barre area is not expected to have another prime car washing day for weeks. The next day temperatures will crack 40 degrees will be Feb. 13, according to AccuWeather, but rain is expected.

Mother Nature literally rained on the parade Sunday, as rain showers washed away many prospective car washers.

Franco said his employees washed 80 vehicles early Sunday before closing up early.

But Orloski said he can’t get too upset at the random turns the weather could take, knowing he’s dealing with an unpredictable business that relies on cooperative weather.

“When we had all those nuisance snowstorms and cold weather, business is terrible,” Orloski said. “Then all of a sudden, we get a nice, sunny day and it’s like going from 0 mph to 100 mph. It’s difficult operating a business sometimes when you depend on the weather.”





Information from: The Citizens’ Voice, https://www.citizensvoice.com

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