St. Paul car wash set to deliver a good, clean Halloween scare

27October 2020

This time of year, ghosts and ghouls lurk in the shadows of desolate corn mazes, decaying manors and abandoned farmhouses, or at least that’s what local Halloween attractions would like us to believe. Teens, tweens, adults and kids flock to these normally unsavory areas for a fright and a good time — but not many flee to a car wash to quiver and shake. That is until this year.

Family-owned car wash Soapy Joe’s in Highland Park will be offering the chance to scream and clean the car from 6 to 9 p.m. leading up to Halloween, Oct. 28-30.

The “Spooktacular Suds” event will include industrial fog machines, blood splatter — that’s actually red soap — and, of course, candy. Co-owner and general manager of Soapy Joe’s, Joe Lindsay, and his sister Ali Gloege, the marketing director of Soapy Joe’s, knew there was a strong chance Halloween would be far from normal this October. With that in mind, the pair came up with the haunted car wash as an opportunity to reach out and give something back to the community.

Soapy Joe’s Car Wash on West Seventh Street in St. Paul is decorated in a spooky theme for Halloween on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

The Halloween-themed car wash is offering “a side of spookiness and entertainment for kids” Lindsay said. Soapy Joe’s normally bright blue car wash tunnel will transform into a haunted passage spilling fog. A lot of car washes use lights and foam every day to “create a show and an experience,” he added. With this horror-themed car wash Lindsay is hoping to take that experience and give it a creepy twist, adding lights, lasers and strobe lights.

Creepy clowns and scary characters will give visitors a fright as they make their way through the car wash — inside their vehicles. Halfway through the wash, visitors can expect the full Sissy Spacek “Carrie” finale experience as blood is spurted on their car. The “blood” will actually be a red car conditioner made darker by overhead red lights, so no worries about scrubbing off the mess later. Guests with young children who want more delight than fright will be able to keep the actors from interacting with the car by putting their hazard lights on.

But cheers and fears isn’t the only way Soapy Joe’s is trying to give back. The family owned car wash is also asking trick-or-treaters and their families to bring bags of non-perishable foods to be donated. Soapy Joe’s will be donating everything brought in to Neighborhood House’s Francis Basket. Neighborhood House is a St. Paul agency that helps residents with basic needs, education and health and well-being. Francis Basket is one of Neighborhood House’s food support programs.

The community, particularly food shelves, have taken a big hit with COVID, Lindsay said. Over the nine years Soapy Joe’s has been in business, the owners have tried to give back to their community through fundraisers, auctions, donations, and supporting local sports teams, such as the Highland Little League. In May, Soapy Joe’s went to restaurants in the community and donated free car wash coupons to give out with deliveries to encourage businesses and the community to order meals.

Joe’s dad and owner of Soapy Joe’s, Bill Lindsay, spent his career before opening Soapy Joe’s in the car wash chemical industry. From the beginning, Joe says, they knew they were going to use environmentally friendly chemicals. The car wash chemicals are sent in packaging that cuts down on plastic. Instead of being sent in plastic drums, chemicals are shipped in cardboard boxes (with a small bag of chemicals inside).

As a kid, Joe said he loved the lights, soap and showmanship of the car wash — and has tried to create that at Soapy Joe’s. As an adult, Joe says he’s passionate about the customer experience. Gloege said she loves seeing people she grew up with in the Highland Area every day at work.

When COVID social distancing went into effect last spring, Joe said Soapy Joe’s shut down immediately in an effort to help protect customers. Two months before COVID shutdowns began, Soapy Joe’s experienced its best business in their nine years. Since COVID, Soapy Joe’s has not been able to turn a profit.

When the car wash was able to reopen, Joe said, business didn’t come back the way they expected. Soapy Joe’s detail work program was booming before COVID, and the owners remodeled the detail work garage. They’ve had to shut down the detail work area and rent out the space it once occupied.

Before COVID, Soapy Joe’s was looking at expanding to another car wash. That plan has been stalled for now but Joe still envisions a future with Soapy Joe’s 2, 3 and 4.

If you go

  • What: Spooktacular Suds at Soapy Joe’s
  • When: 6-9 p.m. Oct. 28-30
  • Where: 1340 West Seventh St., St. Paul
  • Tickets: $20 per vehicle, $15 for monthly members
  • Info: soapyjoesmn.com or Soapy Joe’s on Facebook

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