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With Rinse Rupert Laundry, Gitga’at Development Corporation Puts a New Spin on a Community Space

new laundry machines at a laundromat
The new laundry machines at Rinse Rupert are energy-efficient and high-capacity. (Photo: Gitga’at Development Corporation)

Gitga’at Development Corporation (GDC), the economic arm of Gitga’at First Nation, purchased a 10,000-square foot office and commercial space in 2017. Since acquiring the building, the GDC has created a community and cultural space for Gitga’at members living in the Prince Rupert area. The space doubles as a commercial hub, expanding the Nation’s economic assets and providing the opportunity to launch new businesses.

workers install new lighting and laundry machines
The GDC put in new floors, upgraded the plumbing and electrical systems, and installed new, energy-efficient washers and dryers. (Photo: Gitga’at Development Corporation)

Fast forward three years later, and working around the challenges presented by the pandemic, GDC forged ahead with their business development plans and opened Rinse Rupert, a laundromat service operating out of the building.

Rinse Rupert is a full-service, premium laundromat service, where customers can drop clothing, linens, and towels to be washed, dried, folded, and bagged, or use the machines on a self-serve basis. With affordable pricing, extended operating hours, and a staff of three, the business offers a consistent, reliable option for Gitga’at members and people living in Prince Rupert. The business is open on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and on weekends from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

“We got started during COVID which made it difficult. After the restart, the [customer] numbers have risen steadily,” says Joe Bevan, GDC Chief Executive Officer.

Not only does Rinse Rupert serve tourists and locals, including Gitga’at members who work in trades, they also work in partnership with community groups, like the Prince Rupert Minor League Basketball Association, providing in-kind services to clean jerseys after youth games are played. It’s one of the ways in which Rinse Rupert and the GDC are establishing a strong community presence.

Old laundromat, with brown tiles, uneven floors and exposed plumbing.
Before renovations, the commercial space had uneven floors and needed new plumbing. (Photo: Gitga’at Development Corporation)

While Rinse Rupert has offered a much-needed and valuable service in the area, getting the space ready to launch the business was no small feat. The commercial space had uneven floors and lacked the infrastructure needed to support a business like Rinse Rupert. In 2019, the Gitga’at set to work on renovations, taking the space down to the foundation and completely gutting the interior, upgrading the electrical, plumbing, and floors and installing brand-new machines.

“We are pleased about the renovation using new technology such as energy-saving machines and water-conserving hot water systems,” remarks Bevan.

These energy-efficient machines offer customers cost-savings and a more reliable service, while also showing the Nation’s values when it comes to leaving a lighter environmental footprint — all ingredients for continued success.

Indeed, the future looks bright for Rinse Rupert. “We are always looking at ways to increase business and ensure our customers are happy with our services,” says Bevan. “Compared to earlier numbers, the customer base has tripled and drawn in new clients with our laundry service, with a lot of repeat business.”

The Gitga’at First Nation accessed $300,000 in economic development funds from Coast Funds towards the purchase of the building and launch of Rinse Rupert.