KAMIAH — Laureen and Lance Raff reopened Kamiah’s only laundromat, the Wash House on Nov. 18, 2020, after extensive remodeling the previous summer and fall.
“I was in the trucking business, and log hauling. It’s long hours away from home,” Lance said. “I’ve been thinking about what else I could do.”
The couple said that Laureen’s brother has a laundromat in the Treasure Valley, which gave them the idea. After the Wash House closed in the spring based on COVID concerns, the Raffs approached the former owner to see if they would consider selling. The deal went through in early summer and Lance began working on the building, hiring local businesses, such as J&L Construction, C.J. Electric and Hale Flooring for different aspects of the work.
Laureen said, “We increased the energy efficiency of the building, adding insulation in the ceiling.”
The building, which Lance believes was built in the late 1930s, used to be a grocery store, according to several longtime Kamiah residents. The remodeling yielded some interesting finds such as some hand-painted artwork of cartoon characters to mark grocery aisles. Bugs Bunny munching a carrot indicated the produce aisle and Snoopy on a doghouse for the dog food section.
The Raffs also invested in new washers and dryers.
“It’s a long-term investment,” said Lance. They have room for expansion in the future if the demand increases over time.
The Wash House is now open 24 hours per day, seven days a week.
“We’re going to leave it open so people can come when it is convenient for them,” Lance said. They have learned from Laureen’s brothers’ experience that customers will figure out when to avoid crowded times.
The Raff’s and their five children live in the Tahoe Ridge area near Kooskia.