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Mercer student cleans up with business

Phillip Calderon discovered a need on Mercer University’s campus and created a business.

Last fall, Calderon started a laundry/dry cleaning pickup and delivery business on campus called Student Laundry 101.

After registering online, students, staff and faculty can bring laundry and dry cleaning to Calderon, who drives his colorful automobile to two locations on campus between 10 a.m. and noon Monday through Thursday. He picks up from the same locations.

“It’s fantastic,” said Kim Gibbs, assistant director of Career Services. “I can drop things off a few steps from my office, and (Calderon brings) them back to me, which is great.”

Calderon spent about eight months planning and setting up the operation before it was ready to go. He based it on a similar service offered at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where he previously attended.

“They had something similar to it, and I just wanted to make it a little more automated,” said Calderon, a senior majoring in finance and management.

Calderon does not actually launder or dry clean the clothes himself. He contracts with a local company to do that, but he declined to disclose which one.

“We are not laundry professionals,” he said. “We are the intermediary.”

Once registered online at www.studentlaundry101.com, customers can pick up a laundry bag, which they use to bring items to him. The bag has a bar code attached that lets Calderon know who the items belong to. At the end of the month he charges the customer’s credit card or debit card, which they give when they register.

Thursday was the last day during this semester that the service will be available, but Calderon hopes to be able to offer it during the summer next year. He will start up again the week after fall semester begins.

“We give them time to get their clothes dirty,” he said.

About 80 customers signed up for the service, he said.

“On a consistent basis, we have about 40 to 60 (pickups and deliveries) a week,” he said.

Gibbs said she was impressed with Calderon’s ambition.

“The thing I think is most impressive is that he launched this while an undergrad, taking a very rigorous course load and while also playing varsity-level soccer,” she said. “Many students are not able to do two of those things. What an entrepreneur to detect a need for something on campus and to launch it.”

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.

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