Banking on ‘Water Stores’

Dear Editor:
My husband and I are preparing to open a “water store” here in Topeka, Kan., and have come up against some challenges with attaining financing due to the overwhelming and skeptical responses from the banks that we have approached with our business plan.  

We moved here from Arizona six years ago and are very familiar with the water store concept and success.  We’ve spent the last eight months researching our area as well as the national statistics relating to the purified water business; however, this information is not specific enough to the water store concept itself. Since this is a new concept for Topeka and generally the Midwest, the conservative minds of the bankers here cannot grasp the overwhelming success that this business has shown in virtually every area where it exists. Every bank, so far, has had nothing but praise for our business plan—but they just can’t get past the idea that this is a brand new concept and they treat it as pure speculation.
We’re back at the drawing board, determined to find the facts that will help us prove to them that our vision is well founded and not just speculative, which is why we are writing to you.  
What we are looking for is well- founded documentation, published articles, lists and names of existing water stores by state, if available, and any other supporting facts relating to the success of “Water Stores” and their prominence in the market.   We are hoping that you might be able to direct us to some sources of information.

We would be so grateful for any assistance or advice you can give.

Sandra Sanders
Straight Water, Inc.
Topeka, Kan.

The editor responds: Mostly a sun-belt state phenomenon, I don’t know that there are any associations specifically for water stores other than one that existed in California that I haven’t heard anything from in a few years. Water stores are one of those niches that get lost between water treatment equipment and bottled water, similar to water vending. Often both are categorized as bottled water, since while they’re usually self-filling operations, they do involve use of a bottle or other container that can be taken home by the consumer.

Water vending machine manufacturers and operators have somewhat found their home to date as part of the National Automated Merchandising Association (see: vending.org). But water stores have remained orphans, for the most part bouncing between the Water Quality Association and the International Bottled Water Association.

As far as statewide listings, the only one we know of that is available is from the California Department of Health Services, which includes it as a separate business category. You may find the definition of a water store blurred in other states, which may make it more difficult to separate it from government tabulations for residential water dealerships, health food stores, etc.

You can find a number of articles on water stores in our archives at www. wcponline.com (if any are listed but not posted, just let us know and we’ll fax them to you). Likewise, you’ll find more online such as this one from The Business Journal in Minneapolis/St. Paul — “Water Venture Aims to Flood Markets” (see: www.biz journals.com/twincities/stories/2002/06/10/smallb1.html). And Entrepreneur Magazine had an article touting water stores as the next franchising opportunity in its January 1997 issue (see: www.entrepreneur.com/mag/article/0,1539,226850,00.html).

We hope that helps.

Waterborne infections

Dear Editor:
In your July 2003 article titled “Nosocomial? Waterborne Routes of Hospital-Acquired Infections” (“On Tap” column, WC&P, p. 94), the recommendation from the author is to replace showering and general bathing with “Sponge Baths.” That’s great, however, sponge baths use the same tap water hospitals should avoid and sponge baths use a bacterial reservoir to bath, the basin, which in itself is a HUGE reservoir for bacterial colonization. This basin usually sits in the hospital room for days without being sterilized or changed and is often used as a vehicle for vomit. I would like to question Dr. Reynolds on her recommendations.

Kevin Kenney
[email protected]

The author responds: Feel free to pass the message along to the reader that “sterile” sponge baths are recommended for the severely immunocompromised. Thus, there is no basin as the reader suggested as a source of contamination. Even so, there’s still potential for cross-contamination from one site on the body to others.


Clarification: Sybron’s Mike Keller, author of “Water Conditioners: Maximizing Water Softener Efficiencies” (WC&P, March 2004), said he omitted a statistic from Figure 1 of his article. The optimum brine concentration capacity curve was performed at 8 pounds per cubic foot (lbs/cf or lbs/ft3). The same kind of curve is generated at any given brine concentration. For more information, contact your resin manufacturer. This is corrected in the online version of the article. He thanked Rayne president Bob Denny for pointing out the discrepancy.

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