Sports cars, SUVs, station wagons and sedans.
A seemingly endless line of vehicles pulled into Mike’s Express Carwash at Glenbrook Square on Friday, the location’s last day in business.
For 40 years, families have driven their muddy Mustangs and dusty Dodges to the corner of Coliseum Boulevard and Coldwater Road for a thorough scrubbing.
But last year, the Indianapolis-based carwash company failed to reach an agreement with the mall’s owner, General Growth Properties Inc., on terms for a new lease. The Glenbrook location is one of only two of the company’s 42 carwashes that sit on leased land, spokeswoman Sally Grant said.
With the closing, Mike’s now operates five carwashes in the city, including the company’s first location – 1509 S. Calhoun St. – opened in 1948 by brothers Joe and Ed Dahm.
A jewelry retailer struck a leasing deal for the real estate at 4335 Coldwater Road.
Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, a division of Sterling Jewelers Inc., filed a permit request in early 2013 to build a $1.1 million store on that spot. A company spokeswoman has said the company expects to open on the spot before Christmas this year.
Glenbrook’s general manager couldn’t be reached Friday and has declined to comment on the deal in the past.
Akron, Ohio-based Jared – the store featured in the He went to Jared TV commercials – was founded in 1993. Bermuda-based Signet Jewelers Ltd., the parent company of Sterling and Jared, bills itself as the largest specialty jewelry retailer in the world.
Company officials consider Jared stores a destination, so they choose not to lease property inside malls. The corner they’ve chosen is one of the most visible in Fort Wayne.
The Coldwater Road-Coliseum Boulevard intersection is one of the five busiest in the city – probably coming in at No. 2 or 3, said Dan Avery, executive director of the Northeast Indiana Regional Coordinating Council, which works on regional transportation issues.
About 60,000 vehicles enter the intersection daily, he said. The Lima Road and Coliseum Boulevard intersection is the only local corner that is reliably busier, Avery added.
Two of the busy intersection’s corner retailers are turning over.
On the southeast corner of Coldwater and Coliseum, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, an organic grocery, is scheduled to open this summer in the former Borders bookstore building.
The highly visible corner has been good to Mike’s. Grant, the spokeswoman, said hundreds of thousands of cars have been washed there over the past 40 years. She declined to give a more exact number.
Mike’s officials would consider a similar location in the area if one becomes available – even if that meant re-entering a leasing arrangement, Grant said. Reality is, she said, people don’t like to drive too far out of their way for a carwash.
Some of the customers who drove through the Glenbrook wash Friday were surprised to learn it was closing. But all four who spoke to The Journal Gazette said they’ll go to another’s Mike’s location rather than subject their four-wheeled babies to soapsuds spewed by any other company.
They might even see some familiar faces. All of the Glenbrook workers are being reassigned to other Mike’s locations.
Scott Stites lives in Angola but commutes to Fort Wayne, a drive that leaves his company car dirty enough to make a monthly Mike’s Carwash pass a wise investment.
Monthly passes and gift book coupons are honored at all Mike’s locations, Grant said.
They’re awesome, Stites said of the company. I wouldn’t open a carwash in this town because of the stiff competition from Mike’s.
The Stanley Steemer franchise owner has been patronizing the Glenbrook location for 25 years. He plans to shift his route to take him past the Mike’s Carwash on Lima Road.
Alexei Jaimes was lovingly removing stray water drops that had eluded the powerful air driers inside the wash.
I’ve got a really nice car, and I come here a lot, he said, taking a break from wiping the rims of his 2006 metallic Dodge Charger. It’s close to my house and on the way to school.
The Ivy Tech student said he’ll make the Mike’s on State Boulevard his new destination for thrice weekly washes.
Mel Nowak was shining his 2008 Honda Element just outside the carwash exit. The retired Fort Wayne man has a monthly pass that allows him to drive through one of Mike’s carwashes as many times as he likes for a flat fee.
I’ve been to almost all of them, Nowak said, adding that he stops at the Glenbrook location 99 percent of the time. I’ll miss it, that’s for sure.
Nowak, who’s typically out and about just one day a week, washes his car almost that often. He read about the carwash closing but still hasn’t resigned himself to the news.
I think they’re going to put a flower shop here or something, he said before being reminded that it’s going to be a Jared’s. Yeah, a jewelry store. I thought, What’s with that?’