Here at the launderette, they come in and chat

The business actually belongs to my wife, Mrs Joshi. We’ve been here since 1996, so nearly 16 years now.

It used to be a good business but you know the biggest impact to the business was when they put in all the parking restrictions and the bus lane. It stopped lots of customers coming to us because there was no unloading space. The impact on the business was tremendous, our business went down by 30 to 40%. Since we moved in here the next door café went bust, he moved away. The man in the corner shop, he more or less gave up and then the Turkish people took over. The Golden Fleece, well that business changed hands two times and now it’s just closed down – although that is probably through the impact of no smoking as well. We’ve survived simply because I carried on working in my own job and I pushed in money as a loan to the business to keep it afloat.

People still use launderettes for the larger things like blankets and pillows. But people used to come from Ponders End and Enfield because the price was the best and our service was the best, people used to come a long way. But if you risk a £60 ticket you think twice, you don’t come to the area. Because if you are coming here by car you’ve got to bring one or two bags of washing and you’ve got to have a reasonable space to pull up and park – you know pull up, off load, pay and go.

We put an article in the newspaper, all the shopkeepers got together and we had an article in the Enfield Advertiser. But you read these stories everywhere, you read this same story about Enfield Town, about businesses that have been affected by parking restrictions.

I do my own repairs, I make sure everything is to the proper standard myself, and I keep the costs down that way. We cut down our costs on advertising as well. If the missus was paying me as well for working here I think she’d go bankrupt! The takings are still 30% down on what I was taking in 1996 even after putting the prices up. Everything has gone up: the electric has gone up; the gas has gone up; the rates have gone up; the waters gone up. Everything has gone up, but the takings have gone down.

I think English culture is going and there’s this Americanisation of everything – the big shopping centres, big car parks. But it’s only the big fish that are going to open shops there. Small traders are out of the window. But then again, just along here there’s an estate agent, a supermarket, a launderette, a chemist, a bookies and a shoe shop where he does the keys as well. It’s a good mix for the local community. But eventually because of the parking restrictions, well people are being pressed and pressed, and all you will have is restaurants. And what about culturally for the local community here, what will there be? These businesses, if they were doing well, would probably keep a part time cleaner, they’d get a window cleaner in, you know it would employ people even on a part time basis and that keeps the economy going.

Here at the launderette, I know a lot more about people living locally because they come in and chat and talk. I’ve known some of my customers for 16 years and they’re now older and retired and can’t move around and they ring me up and I go and pick up their laundry and drop it back, for nothing, at no charge. Even now I go to Pickett’s Lock to pick up a customer’s laundry – I’ll pick it up and I’ll drop it back. It’s loyalty to our customers. I do it for about six of our pensioners now, they’re in their 80s now. I’ll go and change their fuses or bulbs and have a cup of tea. This is a small business that is good for the community and that is eventually going away.

Mr Joshi (Owner), Launderette, 265 Fore St