Only in New York City, it seems, is the process of picking up a load of clean laundry or dry cleaning as hassle-prone as mowing the lawn or raking leaves in a more suburban locale. Indeed, one “Sex and the City” episode made the struggle to get to the cleaners a central plot device, with a harried Carrie Bradshaw running through muddy streets, dodging errant taxi cabs to pick up a sweater in time. Enter DashLocker, a start-up formed last year by ex-banker Robert Hennessy, which operates four retail stations in Manhattan and is planning to expand to a host of apartment buildings within the next year.
The company provides 15-by-22-inch personal lockers, where users can drop off dirty clothes and shoes, and pick up fresh dry cleaning, clean laundry and shined shoes at any time of the day. (DashLocker processes the clothes and shoes at a separate site.) A text or email notifies customers when their items are ready for pick up, and the user can access the locker with a four-digit PIN code, eliminating the need to visit a Laundromat or tip a delivery person.
The service makes sense for a particular demographic segment of Manhattan: professionals with little time but no doorman, Hennessy noted in a conversation today with The Real Deal.
Now, DashLocker is turning what used to be an independent service into an amenity for apartment buildings, rolling out its lockers in four properties owned by Benchmark Real Estate as of this week, Hennessy said.
The product is already in operation at 12 Manhattan apartment buildings, including Equity Residential’s Parc East, at 240 East 27th Street in Kips Bay, with 16 additional buildings in contract to have lockers installed this month, according to Hennessy. He said he is hoping to move into 1,000 more New York City buildings in the next year.
“Automation is not an old process,” Hennessy admits, but it is a useful one. “It’s unfortunate, but there are a number of professionals in New York who see a minimum wage attendant as more of a hindrance.”
The new amenity comes at no cost to landlords. And it could catch on at New York City buildings that cater to busy professionals and families but do not have a 24-hour doorman, Aaron Feldman, co-founder of Benchmark, told The Real Deal.
Benchmark considers the lockers a sort of experiment, and may add them to other properties if the tenants are pleased with the service, he said. DashLockers are installed at their buildings at 65 Bank Street, 425 Third Avenue, 28 West 26th Street and 320 East 22nd Street.
“You don’t see this offered in many other buildings,” Feldman said. “I think it’s one way our tenants will recognize that we are looking outside the box.”
Hennessy licensed the software for the product from a San Francisco-based company called Laundry Locker, which provides a similar service and provided inspiration for DashLocker, according to published reports.
He previously worked for embattled hedge fund SAC Capital before becoming an entrepreneur, and said the end goal is likely to sell his start-up to a property manager or developer.
“That’s the direction I see this heading,” he said.