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Grain bins a part of new car and pet wash in Perham

A vehicle leaves the car wash after a soft touch cleaning on Monday. The new Country Car Wash and Pet Wash opened on 3rd Avenue SE in Perham in mid-October. (Marie Johnson / Perham Focus)1 / 3
Country Car Wash and Pet Wash in Perham is the first car wash owned by the Lakes Area Cooperative. If all goes well with this one, manager Ben Lindquist said, there could be more in the future, at other co-op locations across the region. (Marie Johnson / Perham Focus)2 / 3
A pet wash is available inside the "grain bin" part of the building. (Marie Johnson / Perham Focus)3 / 3

Lakes Area Cooperative's Country Car Wash and Pet Wash opened in mid-October, and cars and canines have been coming out squeaky clean ever since.

Ben Lindquist, the co-op's feed department manager who now oversees the car wash, too, said there were a few initial mechanical kinks to be worked out, but by and large the washes have been running smoothly — and public reception has been positive.

"There's been a lot of excitement about it around town," Lindquist said. "The public has been really good and really accepting of it."

The Country Car Wash and Pet Wash, located on 3rd Avenue SE between downtown Perham and Highway 10, has a distinctive design, with barn-red siding and what looks to be a grain bin in the middle of it. That "grain bin" actually houses the pet wash, which is flanked by two car washes, a soft touch and a touchless wash.

Lindquist said the building's agricultural style is a reflection of the co-op as a whole. Lakes Area Cooperative was established as a creamery in 1912 and has since grown to include many other farm supply and retail businesses, such as ag chemicals, meat processing, propane, convenience stores, feed and fertilizer, to name a few.

The co-op has multiple business locations in communities across the region. Its administrative offices are here in Perham, just down the street from its new car wash as well as other co-op businesses like the Locker Plant and Perham Country Store. The Country Car Wash and Pet Wash is the co-op's first car wash business.

"It was something none of us really knew anything about, so it's been a learning curve for us," said Lindquist. "This is the pilot (car wash business). There are many other locations around north central Minnesota, so if this one goes good, you never know, they could end up in other places, too."

Lindquist said he and other leaders within the co-op started some rough planning for the car wash about three years ago. The co-op purchased the lot the car wash now sits on several years ago, but didn't have any specific plans for the land at that time. After the city made some street improvements along 3rd Avenue, the car wash business "just kind of blossomed from there," he said.

"We've kind of always thought that (a car wash) was something we should try," said Lindquist. "When they redid the street, the curbs got put in, and we just said, 'Let's go for it.' We had the room, and the traffic counts were really good along this street. So that's how it all came to be."

They came up with the building's design, and the idea for the pet wash, in group brainstorming sessions. Construction started at the end of April, and the facility officially opened Oct. 12.

Lindquist said the car wash is unique in town, in that it's made with the latest technology and it offers a soft touch brush wash that "does a superb job — especially on a dirtier-than-usual vehicle."

"It's brand new, it's state-of-the-art, and we hope it operates like that for a long time into the future," he said. "We hope people use it and continue to use it, and we value feedback on it. It's a good, valuable service that we hope to provide in town for many, many years to come."

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune as a reporter and magazine editor in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in Detroit Lakes with her husband, Dan, their 4-year-old son and toddler daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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