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Sometimes the bad things that happen turn out to be the best things that could have happened.

For township resident Stephanie Anderson, getting laid off from her corporate job in October 2009 led to fulfilling a lifelong dream. The 51-year-old opened her own business, the Hamilton Washery in Hamilton Township, this past July and plans to celebrate with a grand opening Sept. 15.

The 51-year-old moved to Millstone five years ago. She worked in the financial industry on Wall Street for 28 years, including 13 years at Bear Stearns and eight years at Merrill Lynch.

“With the mergers and the markets crashing, I lost jobs three times since 2006,” she said.

Anderson, a single mother of three boys, needed stability and decided a laundromat would be a recession-proof source of steady income.

“I can drive it to where I want to take it,” she said. “There’s always a niche somewhere.”

With the help of a loan from the Small Business Administration, she purchased the property at 121 Graffam Ave. after researching potential sites within a half hour of her home. The building housed a laundry for 20 years, but Anderson said she renovated it from “the ceiling tiles to the ceramic floor.” The Hamilton Washery features 28 washers and 28 dryers, all made by Dexter. Anderson said that customers often remark on the “Made in the U.S.A.” label displayed on the front of the machines.

During the renovation, Anderson acted as general contractor and got all the necessary permits. The refurbishing took three months from closing the purchase of the building on April 5 to the informal opening on July 5. She made a corner for kids where they can play with puzzles or watch children’s shows on television. The laundromat also offers free Wi-Fi, a drink and snack machine, and a monthly drawing for prizes such as a television set. She currently has two employees.

Anderson has planned three phases for her business. During the first, she wants to build up the everyday clientele. Then, she plans to expand the wash-and-fold service. Finally, she will focus on developing commercial accounts.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that this is where I’m supposed to be in my life now,” she said.

Written by Jane Meggitt for GMNews about Stephanie Anderson, founder of The Hamilton Washery in Millstone, NJ.

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