WILMINGTON — The Deerfield Valley could be getting a car wash.
"I'm pretty excited about it because it's a new concept," said Geoffrey Greene, owner of Clean Machine.
The parking lot of the former Twice Blessed Community Thrift Store in Wilmington is the location where his project is being proposed. The thrift store has moved to another building on Route 100, but in West Dover.
A hearing on the permit application that started Monday will be continued on Sept. 13. The property owners had not yet signed the necessary documents, according to Zoning Administrator Craig Ohlson. The Development Review Board will be deciding on whether to approve a conditional use permit for an automotive service.
"It's all self-contained in a van, like a minivan, with wash and rinse," said Ohlson. "There should be a market for this because there's nowhere around here. If someone wanted to get their car washed, they'd have to go Brattleboro or Bennington. I think he could do pretty well."
Greene said he uses a containment mat that allows him to leave no footprint. A hose is attached to the mat and it allows the water to be transferred to empty tanks.
"Think of a big tarp, basically a heavy duty carp. The sides blow up so you have about 4 or 5 inch sides. So, think of a big rectangular kiddie pool. The cars drive right over this," said Greene. "Since it's pressure wash, it's not the same amount of water you're using in your driveway or God forbid, a real car wash. You can recycle the water."
This works out well for Greene, who has concerns about the environment.
The plan is to bring the van to the old thrift store parking lot and set up a sandwich board advertising the business. An existing footbridge will enable his customers to visit the neighboring food stands, Joe's Home Cookin' and the Creemee Stand.
Greene already visits houses and businesses with the mobile car-wash setup.
"I had just bought a car and I looked at washing it. I had to go to Brattleboro and Bennington. I Googled mobile car washes and it popped up. I didn't know there was such a thing," Greene said. "I was going to figure it out. Thankfully, someone else did first. It's really cool and it's going like gangbusters because by default, there are no car washes and with the mobile aspect, everyone wants it to come to them now."
The pressure washer allows Greene to get underneath the car. That's a feature not all car washes offer, he said.
By himself, the job can take Greene up to an hour and a half. With help, he estimates it taking closer to a half hour. It also depends on the size of the vehicle and "cleanliness or lack of," he said.
Several options are available to customers. They can choose to have the interior or exterior cleaned, or both. Debit and credit cards will be accepted.
"It's going to be about $40 a car and $50 for an SUV (sports utility vehicle) and larger," said Greene, who does not expect to slow down in the winter. "I have capabilities to heat my water. I'll have a pop-up tent with sidings."
Working at the Hermitage Club golf course during the summer has brought him customers. And with employment as a valet at the company's private ski resort at Haystack Mountain in the winter, he hopes to have even more.
People are telling him he might be busier in the winter, he said.
"Eventually, the master plan is to create a brand," said Greene, who hopes to build another car washing kit and purchase another van in about a year. "Then I'll offer a partnership with someone."
Getting a small business loan can be difficult. Greene said applicants either have to get a big loan or borrow money from friends and family. He is looking at other "pockets of Vermont" and places where car washes cannot be found. He's also exploring marketing through social media. Special deals could be promoted that way.
Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.