Car wash crazy: Yukon's biggest hockey tournament is big biz for car wash company

George Maratos/CBC

When you think of businesses that benefit from big hockey tournaments the car wash is probably not the first one to come to mind. But every March, no matter the weather, patrons line-up in Whitehorse and wait, all in the name of getting their vehicles cleaned.

"Normally we don't have cars lined up to the street but this week, even though it's not the busy hours yet, the cars are lined up all day to the road," said Andre Regis, Manager of Mighty Wash car wash in Whitehorse. "It's mostly muddy trucks and muddy SUVs from out of town ... they're  a pain in the ass to clean but really good for business."

It's mostly muddy trucks and SUVs from out of town  - Andre Regis, Manager - Mighty Wash

The majority of the car wash customers are from out of town. They've come to Whitehorse to take part in the Yukon Native Hockey tournament. Now in its 42nd year, the tournament features First Nations players and fans from across Yukon, Northwest Territories, B.C. and Alberta. It is easily the biggest hockey tournament in the Yukon every year with hundreds descending on Whitehorse for the weekend.

George Maratos/CBC

For many visitors to Whitehorse on their to-do list while here is to get their vehicle shined up. Regis says typically about 20 vehicles come through the Mighty Wash full-service bay every day but when the Yukon Native Hockey tournament is on that number increases to about 50.

This week's record-breaking heat wave has meant even more customers lining up for a wash.  

The car wash manager says an additional 200 cars are being washed manually every day, with most customers waiting at least an hour for their car to be cleaned.

For car wash attendants John Alesna and Delton Grantham the long line-ups mean more work and more money in their pockets. They say they've been getting anywhere from $50 to $120 in tips every day.

"Sometimes it's $2 and sometimes it's even ten bucks, pretty decent to bring home some money plus get paid an hourly," said Grantham.

George Maratos/CBC

And while the hockey tournament is good for business it does mean longer waits for regular customers of Mighty Wash, like retiree Tony Bazylinski of Whitehorse. He says he doesn't mind the longer lines.

"Whenever my truck's dirty I come here, it's great and I get the seniors discount," Bazylinski said.

This week, despite summer being months away, the car wash switched to its summer hours to meet the increased demand.