RYE, N.Y. – When Port Chester resident Eric Birdsall’s wife was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he got a new perspective, got wind of eco-friendly car wash technology and quit his construction job to open his own business.
“I’m from Rye, so I grew up in the neighborhood and always saw this property vacant. I was working in construction, looking for something new. Then when my wife got sick, it kind of lit a fire under me to say, ‘Let’s take a shot,’ ” he said. “We were looking for a place to live, and the condos we could afford weren’t in great shape. And I came home one day and said, ‘How about we put all of our money to a car wash?’ and she said, ‘I’m in.’ ”
Birdsall opened Birdie's Auto Spa in Rye less than one year ago offering the area’s first, and so-far only, Steam Hand Car Wash for environmentally minded residents. Compared to traditional car washes, Birdie’s saves 39 to 49 gallons of water with each wash. This video shows more.
Less than a gallon of water is used per vehicle, regardless of its size. It requires no soap and does not cause any wastewater runoff, as the steam dissipates into the air. A steam hand car wash costs $30 per car and takes about 30 minutes. The prices may be slightly higher than other area car washes, but Birdsall says he believes in quality.
“If people are going to cut things, detailing and washes are on the list, but in this community if you provide a really good service – we do pickup and drop-off – then people will come. The economy may be bad somewhere, but in Rye it looks like business is still booming,” he said.
Since July 9, the business has contributed a percentage of its sales from those who want to donate to the Rye Recreation Department's summer camp fund.
“I was a Rye Rec camper my whole life and a counselor there as well,” he said, adding that the business also did a fundraiser in October for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. “We didn’t raise a lot of money, but it was gratifying,” he said.
This time around, the business gives back $5 per wash and $15 per detailing job to go toward camp admissions. So far Birdie’s has raised $300. Birdsall says he hopes to raise at least $800, the cost of admission for one camper.
Birdie’s Auto Spa is at 180 Theodore Fremd Ave. in Rye. Early-bird $20 specials are offered for cars and sport utility vehicles Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.