A Tidal Wave of Convenience | By Carol Enright
Tidal Wave Luxury Car Wash and Edison Express bring an oasis of one-stop shopping to Chesterfield Valley.
When Tidal Wave Luxury Car Wash opened in March 2017, it brought to Chesterfield Valley not only a state-of-the-art car wash, but a gas station, a McArthur’s drive-thru bakery, and an amped-up convenience store that blows away expectations of the traditional spirits, snacks and slushies experience. The Edison Express c-store features a Brew Cave — literally, a walk-in refrigerator with a full selection of cold beers and specialty craft brews — Shakespeare’s Pizza (of Columbia, Mo., fame), froyo, fresh produce, a large wine section with party supplies and greeting cards, as well as a slew of fountain drink options, iced coffees, a slushie station, and more.
“Our goal in opening this concept was to innovate and challenge traditional thinking in the convenience and car wash industries and provide the ultimate customer experience with multiple amenities all under one roof — not be just another boring convenience store,” Operations Manager Mace Nosovitch says. “If you look across the nation, the trend is consolidating multiple uses into single one-stop-shop kind of facilities, which is in stark contrast to these traditionally fragmented industries.”
General Manager Billie Jean Garner says the store is more mini market than traditional convenience store.
“You have a given amount of space. How can you most efficiently use that space? What can you put in there so that a customer can stop and, on one visit, do multiple things and save themselves time? That was the thinking behind this facility,” Garner explains.
The multi-use space also provides multiple revenue streams.
“The nice thing about this facility is it’s not driven by one product,” Tidal Wave Car Wash Manager Paul Toler says. “Whereas with a traditional car wash, if it’s raining, you’re not doing any business.”
The strength of the business model is that all the pieces — gas station, c-store, car wash and bakery — are designed to work together.
“If you give customers multiple reasons to visit — whether it’s to pick up beer or wine for a Friday night social event or ice cream for the kids or donuts on a Sunday morning — and you mix that in with a full-service car wash operation, it not only smoothes out revenue streams throughout the year for our business but, more importantly, raises the bar for what modern convenience should look like,” Nosovitch explains. “It’s a win-win for the consumer and our business. It makes weather less of an issue, and it allows us to plan our labor more efficiently, cross train our staff, schedule deliveries — all critical ingredients to any successful business.
“The challenge is in staying relevant, adapting to changing consumer needs, and continuing to strive to set and maintain the gold standard in our industry,” he adds.
Local Franchise Supporting Local Jobs
The Tidal Wave in Chesterfield is a new, local franchise.
“This is our flagship facility,” Nosovitch says. “It’s the first location of this franchise and this concept, and really exemplifies the customer experience we aim to be known for.”
And this local business supports about 50 local jobs, employing high school and college students in the summer and year-round.
“It’s a great first job,” says Toler. “They get tips (working the car wash) and the hours are flexible. The express car wash is open until 10, but full-service closes at 7. So for a high school student, it’s the perfect job. They come in after school, and they’re out of here by 7:30 at the latest. So there’s no excuse for not getting their homework done.”
Nosovitch says he started working in retail when he was 15 years old, and the skills and work ethic he learned then help him manage his business today. He enjoys passing those life lessons on to the next generation.
“We give them an environment where they’re interacting with customers, learning personal communication skills, dealing with problems, dealing with requests,” Nosovitch says. “We recognize that most of these kids have future career goals outside of the convenience store or wash industry. But we also realize that we’re serving a purpose in the business community for these kids: to give them a chance to learn and to develop leadership skills and management skills — all the skills they’ll need to be successful in whatever avenue they pursue in life.”
State-of-the-Art Car Wash Technology
One look at the Tidal Wave car wash tunnel, and it’s clear this is not anything like the car washes of yesteryear.
“It’s leaps and bounds ahead of the equipment used in the past and still present in many older washes,” says Toler. “I think we all had concerns about car washes in the past, the different cleaning materials or harsh chemicals used or different wash methods. Nowadays, the technology’s come so far that we have smart computers running all the equipment. It’s measuring the lengths and heights of the cars; it’s telling them when to fire, down to the second; it’s telling them different pieces to turn off; it recognizes when somebody has a ladder rack on their car or a trailer hitch — and we can adjust what is touching the vehicles at all times.”
Unlike car washes of old that used “actual cloth that got wet and heavy and held dirt and sand,” Tidal Wave uses “soft microcellular closed-cell envirosoft foam that does not hold dirt and debris, so you don’t have to worry about your car getting scratched,” says Toler.
And the tunnel is efficient and environmentally friendly.
“We can run upwards of 120 cars through there in an hour,” Nosovitch says. “It’s using a tenth or less of the water that you use on your driveway at home. The chemicals are environmentally biodegradable, so we’re not worried about what we’re putting into the community sewer systems. You can do all that in less than 3 minutes in the tunnel and have a clean, shiny and dry car — repeatedly.”
Nosovitch says Tidal Wave Wash customers leave the tunnel with far more than a clean car: “You’re supporting the kids with jobs. You’re supporting a local business. You’re protecting the environment.”
But, at the end of the day, Tidal Wave is all about convenience.
“Where else could you go for 15 minutes — order a McArthur’s birthday cake, get ice cream, buy a bottle of wine, get your car washed, get your tank filled up and be in and out in 15 minutes?” Nosovitch says. “You can do all that here.”