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In Ann Arbor, A 50-Year-Old Car Wash Says Farewell

Liberty Car Wash in Ann Arbor, Michigan, closed for good last week. (Photo: Google Maps)

Liberty Car Wash in Ann Arbor, Michigan, closed for good last week. (Photo: Google Maps)

Nationally, all the numbers indicate a growing car wash industry. And we’ve reported plenty of stories about entrepreneurs jumping into the game, including one Indiana car wash business that hopes to become the “dominant” operation in the industry.

But in Ann Arbor, Michigan, things don’t seem to be stacking up to the trend. In a report from the city’s news source, mlive.com, the longtime owner of Liberty Car Wash says he’s throwing in the towel. The business, which was started in the mid-1960s didn’t make it to 2015.

“There just wasn’t enough money to be made to keep things updated,” Charlie Foster, who bought the self-serve business in 1996, told the reporter. The roof and the equipment needed replaced. “I’d need to do a lot of work here. There just isn’t money to do it.”

He said he’d hoped that the company would benefit from the closure of other car wash businesses in town, but somehow the demand for Liberty never grew. It just kept sliding. Ultimately, he sold the property to a developer that plans to build a condo.

On Wednesday — New Year’s Eve — the company’s last day in business, Foster gave away free car washes. Bittersweet.

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