Tioga Street Carwash to open soon

Christina VanDergrift stands outside the Tioga Street Carwash, which is nearing completion and should open in December.

WELLSBORO — A second car wash to serve the Wellsboro area is nearing completion and should be open before the end of the year.

Christina and Jeremy VanDergrift will own and operate the four-bay, 35- by 75-foot car wash. It’s been Christina VanDergrift’s dream to build it since March 2015.

That was the time when the couple found themselves traveling to Florida with some friends, including a man who owns three and car washes in Corning, N.Y.

“I traveled 2,000 miles looking at the back of Jeremy’s head thinking, ‘I have got to build a car wash,’” she said.

On their return, she approached Jim Stager, the owner of the lot across from Mountain Valley Realty, where Christina VanDergrift is the broker, about selling the lot. He declined to sell it, “but in my gut I felt like it would happen some day,” she said.

She began buying books about designing, building and operating a car wash, even wrote a business plan. In March 2018, her gut urged her to pick up the phone and call Stager again. This time, he said yes.

After committing to buy the property, the VanDergrifts learned that Jeremy would be losing his job with Shell.

“We had to stretch our faith and make sure our business plan was accurate,” said Christina VanDergrift, before closing on the sale.

The friend from Corning was helpful, providing information on what products to install and planning the business. The Tioga Street Carwash will offer different products from other car washes in the area, said Christina VanDergrift.

Two bays are self-service with a hand sprayer, brush and drier. The other two are automatic. One has a soft-touch brushes while the other is laser guided. Both adjust to the height, width and length of the vehicle.

An exterior self-serve bay can accommodate larger vehicles, trailers, motorhomes, even boats.

There will be four vacuums in the vacuum island on the northern end, one of which will be a fragrance vacuum.

Work began on July 8 with a groundbreaking and has progressed rapidly, said Christina VanDergrift. She wanted it to look “old school, but classy,” choosing the exterior surfaces, lighting and landscaping. There was a breath-catching moment when it came time to pave the lot this past week.

Local asphalt factories were scheduled to close Friday, Nov. 15. The VanDergrifts received the Highway Occupancy Permit a few weeks before that, scheduled the paving and waited to see if the weather would cooperate.

“Last week was in the high 40s,” Christina VanDergrift said. “You can’t open a car wash without a paved parking lot.”

A website, tiogastreetcarwash.com, is in development. Once live, it will offer a Wash Access Loyalty System where customers can sign up to get a card or unique code to use at the wash, purchase discounted washes or buy in bulk for a fleet.