The temperature is in the upper 20s on a midmorning in January and the Car Wash Barn is moderately busy despite the chill.
Four freshly clean cars gleam in the barn’s vacuum section, looking like they were just coated with a vehicle’s equivalent of lip gloss.
William Clinton, a new employee from an area high school, directs cars in and out of the wash.
“[The cold] isn’t completely unbearable because there’s a heater outside,” said Clinton, wearing gloves and a jacket. “But it’s cold.”
Contrary to popular belief, the icy weather in the area has actually been good for business, said Mike Sanchez, Car Wash Barn’s marketing manager.
The wet muddy conditions that occur in fall and winter bring more customers to the barn, making them the busy seasons. But the whole operation balances between the weather and environment.
“When it rains, we close.” Sanchez said. “And we do our maintenance ... however, when we do open we see a surge of people getting that mud out of there.”
Cars coated with salt or sand from Texas Department of Transportation’s ice deterrents caused a bumper-to-bumper line last weekend. The salt is corrosive to a car and sand is just dirty, so Sanchez said he can understand why people would want to wash it off.
But in summer months, when the area typically suffers from drought, Sanchez worries about the public’s perception.
After hearing the city of Wichita Falls shut down a local car wash, the All American Car Wash, as part of drought restrictions measures, he worries it could happen in Copperas Cove.
“The first thing (Wichita Falls) shut down was the car wash,” Sanchez said. “And (the car wash) recycled 90 percent of their water.”
Car Wash Barn, which recycles 80 percent of the water used, is constantly trying to redefine the stereotype that it uses a lot of water.
“Environmentally, if you’re driveway washing instead of using the car wash, the water you’re wasting is significant compared to what we use,” Sanchez said.
Car Wash Barn is looking to expand to the Clear Creek area near Fort Hood and will expand to north Austin this summer. The store has four locations in the area.