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Tommy's car wash arriving to Columbus soon

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Tommy's Express Car Wash

Construction continues at Tommy's Express Car Wash, 2112 23rd St. in Columbus. The car wash should be open around the winter holidays and it will be one of about 10 car washes in town.

People have preferences when it comes to their car wash, and soon there will be one more option for Columbus vehicle owners: Tommy's Express Car Wash.

"The way it looks right now, we're anticipating being open some time in mid-December," Ben Conover said.

Conover and his business partner, Matt Preister, have been working to bring a Tommy's Express Car Wash franchise location to Columbus for a couple of years.

In March, construction on Tommy's began with the demolition of the old Ernst car dealership to make way for the new car wash at 2112 23rd St. Conover said it costs about $5 million to build a Tommy's, and that he and Preister started looking into opening a few of them in Nebraska at least three ago.

"I own a small car wash in Norfolk and it would be backed up and I was sitting there one day looking at the line and realized people were going to wait in line for an hour," Conover said. "...Why would somebody wait in line for 40 minutes to wash their car? We traveled to … five or six states, looked at everything there was possibly that we could do with a car wash and bought our Tommy's territories in 2018."

Kat's Car Wash & Gas

On Friday morning, a Kat's Car Wash & Gas employee stands outside of the convenience store and car wash bays at 3309 Eighth St. in Columbus for a photo. Kat's is a self-service car wash.

Conover said he and Preister are on track to open another Tommy's in Norfolk about the same time as the car wash in Columbus. Their plans have also included Tommy's locations in Grand Island and Kearney.

"We were trying to decide on Columbus and we did a little bit of research and thought Columbus would do really well," Conover said.

Columbus isn't short on car and truck washes, though: There are almost 10 in town already.

"I don't know how it's feasible, for this many to make it in town, but it must be," Alan Davis said.

Davis owns and runs Kat's Car Wash & Gas, a self-service car wash, gas station and convenience store located along 33rd Avenue in Columbus.

"I heard they do traffic counts," Davis said. "That's all I can come up with, is that the traffic count says they should make it feasible."

Davis said that many of the people who wash their cars at Kat's are regular customers, and noted that people have different preferences when it comes to washing their car, especially with respect to the finished product.

"A lot of people still like to do their cars by hand," Davis said. "There are a lot of chemicals that go into those automatics. … Especially non-brush automatics, it takes severe chemicals to get that dirt off."

On the other hand, he said, he knows people who actually prefer touchless, automatic car washes that don't use brushes.

B&J Truck and Trailer Wash

On Friday, a sign marks the entrance to B&J Truck and Trailer Wash, 1232 E. 19th St. in Columbus. B&J is one of the only places in town that can wash semi trucks.

"In the old days, brushes always caused swirls all over the car," Davis said. "...I like washing my car by hand, but a lot of people are in a hurry."

Others are limited by the size of their vehicle. A lot of heavy truck traffic comes through Columbus but, between all of the car washes in Columbus, there are only a couple that can do semi trucks. They include B&J Truck and Trailer Wash and East Side Truck Service, both located on the east end of town.

But, Conover said he and Preister expect that ease of use will set Tommy's apart from the crowd, especially given the way Tommy's integrates an app into the experience.

"Another thing I think is unique is that...if somebody has a (Tommy's) membership, they can wash at any Tommy's in the country," Conover said.

In the end, it comes down to personal preference, and Columbus has plenty of options.

Molly Hunter is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at molly.hunter@lee.net.

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