Min Kim is the owner of E & I Laundry on Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens. 

Unlike many of her competitors in the neighborhood, Kim has stayed open during the coronavirus crisis, but business is anything but brisk.

"Before corona to now, I compare more than 50% is reduced, because people don't come out and there are not too many drop-off services, and also dry cleaning is not coming at all," said Kim.

With most of her customers now working from home, there is no longer a demand for dry cleaning, which makes up about 40 percent of her revenue. 

She says she's had to cut hours and laid off her two employees just to keep her doors open, so she understands why other owners have closed. It's just not worth it. 

"It doesn't make the money for paying the rent or employees or utilities," Kim added.

Laundromats are considered essential services but are still required to enforce social distancing. 

Kim's space is bigger than the average laundromat, but she is still taking precautions:

  • Only 3 or 4 customers are allowed in at a time to either load or unload machines.
  • No more waiting for a load to be done.
  • Nor is folding allowed.

"We want people to have clean clothes. The cleaning of clothes actually kills the coronavirus, but you cant crowd into a laundromat," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Devin Kelly says the three laundromats near her apartment in Kensington, Brooklyn have closed in recent weeks, too. They are either too small to safely operate, or the owners are too anxious about all the foot traffic.  

So Kelly and her roommate have taken matters into their own hands. 

"We have just been doing our laundry in the bathtub when we run out of essential things," said Kelly.

Some New Yorkers are even buying portable washing machines to avoid spending time inside laundromats.

Kim says she now not only has to worry about her health, but making sure her business survives.