Red light business models


What role does the seemingly incongruous availability of internet (via the several desktop computers inside) play in this laundromat’s business model? Maybe the shop is just outdated, or the owner lacks the capital to afford the washing machines and dryers that could occupy the space currently being taken up by a few desktop computers she or he found for cheap (that said, the prospects for standalone Internet Cafes’ success are vanishing, even in China).

Rents are high here, and any “slack” in a business’s revenue model could quickly sink it. The availability of affordable computer/internet access and the prominent placement of the candy machine means that this laundromat’s business model is likely built to profit off of a common set of its target patrons’ needs. For context, this shop is in Amsterdam’s Red Light district, meaning a greater density of affordable hostels and flop houses catering to the cash-strapped travelers passing through the Venice of the North.

If you’re on the road with limited financial means, odds are that you’ve decided not to pay for roaming cellular data for your mobile phone, and are instead relying upon catch-as-catch-can WiFi (not always freely available in cheap hostels) and internet cafés. Odds are also good that you’re traveling light, with few pieces of clothing and even fewer means of regularly washing them (short of using your hostel’s sink and some creative improvisation to set up a drying solution in your tiny room).

Hence, a place that combines access to washers and dryers, a desktop computer connected to WiFi (writing long emails or posts on a smartphone’s keyboard can tire one’s thumbs in a hurry), and a vending machine dispensing affordable junk food will prove quite attractive to the shoestring globetrotters here in De Wallen.

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