WATERLOO: Meet Lan, the friendly and hard-working owner of Waterloo Laundry on Botany Road, just near the IGA. Business has slowed due to current public health measures and self-isolation, but as we go to print the laundry remains open.
Lan’s family is from Vietnam. In 1981, Lan travelled to Hong Kong, where she lived until 1990. She has lived in Waterloo ever since, managing laundries in Newtown and Surry Hills before taking on the Waterloo business nine years ago.
Waterloo Laundry has 16 washing machines and four large driers. The laundry offers washing, drying, ironing and dry-cleaning as well as alterations and repairs. Operating seven days a week with the help of part-time workers is no easy task, but Lan is always welcoming and dedicated to providing top-quality service.
Lan has close family just a five-minute walk away (at the dry cleaners on Redfern Street). “We are keeping in touch by phone now,” she says. “Like everyone else, I’m feeling a bit scared of the virus. I need to be careful at work, too, and follow safety rules.”
When asked to name the best thing about working in Waterloo, Lan replies: “I live in John Street and I love the neighbourhood. I have many good friends – my Cantonese friend has a flower shop just nearby.”
Lan speaks Vietnamese and Cantonese and learned to speak English on arrival in Sydney. “I know just a little English!” she laughs.
Regulars appreciate her warm and generous personality. One happy customer says: “I always enjoy dropping by. Lan is never too busy to greet us with a smile, and she can clean and mend just about anything.”
Another says: “I drop off my uniforms, trousers and suits for cleaning as the staff are always so very nice. They seem to have a huge commercial business operating in the background but always have time for a talk and smile. They give a very quick quote, never ask for the money first, which is trusting, and they are fast. Jobs are usually ready for pick-up in two days.”
Talking with Lan, I learn the Cantonese word for “thank you” – do jeh. She says it with a gentle bow. Do jeh, Lan. We are grateful to you for many years of care and service.
87 Botany Road, Waterloo
Wash and iron: shirts $3, trousers $6
Ironing only: shirts $2.50, trousers $4
Bag wash: $15