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Coin shortage creates concern for Greensboro laundromat

If you run out of quarters at a convenience store or fast-food restaurant, it's a bummer. If you run out of quarters at a laundromat, you shut down.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Marie Russell was folding some laundry when she heard someone using the change machine. Russell owns K&S Laundromat in Greensboro. A few seconds later, she heard quarters pouring out of the machine. 

Russell then looked up and realized the person getting change was doing it repeatedly, but not using it to get a quarter for the washing machine or dryer.

“She had a stack of ten-dollar bills, and she was stuffing the quarters into a Ziploc bag,” Russell said.

The lady worked at a nearby restaurant and told Russell they needed change for their customers. Russell had heard a little bit about the coin shortage, but this is when it really hit her.

“If we don’t have change, we don’t have a business. This is all we run on is quarters,” Russell said.

A short time later, Russell printed and posted a sign next to the change machine making sure everyone knew it was just for customers. Anyone else looking to get change would have to go elsewhere.

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Unlike many businesses that could use change but don’t need it to operate a coin, the laundromat is reliant on quarters. The washing machines and dryers do not take dollar bills or credit cards. Russell has since kept a close eye on the quarters in the business making sure they are cycled only from the change machine to the washer and dryers.

“I’ve had a (lady from a) bank come talk to me about change, but I was not able to give her any,” Russell said.

Hundreds, if not thousands of businesses around the Triad are dealing with the coin shortage. At Sheetz gas stations, there are signs up inside the store by the cash register encouraging customers to pay with a credit or debit card or to donate the change to the company’s charity program for kids.

“We shop for and wrap gifts for the kids that are underprivileged during the holidays,” Nick Ruffner with Sheetz, said.

RELATED: Walmart asks customers to use their debit/credit cards instead of cash

Sheetz does not consider the shortage an emergency, but it is aware of the shortage and is doing its part to reduce the need. Ever since the pandemic hit there are simply not as many coins in circulation. The pandemic has also impacted the number of coins being produced.

Russell is confident her business has enough quarters to stay up and running even setting aside some extra if needed.

“We have a reserve, so we should be okay,” Russell said.