By Will Koper
Kevin’s fraternity brothers used to joke that he had gotten a business degree just to wash cars – until he told them about the money he made. Seven years ago, he decided he was happier in the ’hood than on the Hill, so he sold his regular car wash near Eastern Market and invested in a mobile operation.
Now, you can find him and his crew of “misfits” on the corner of 5th Street and Florida Avenue Northeast, seven days a week from dawn till dusk. His only advertisements are his immaculate Escalade, which he washes every day, and the continuous hum of the power washer.
In the past few years, Kevin has seen this Northeast Washington neighborhood change from an open-air drug market to an up-and-coming annex of Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, his employees have made their own transitions, giving up criminal pasts and living up to new responsibilities.
Kevin says that gentrification has had little effect on his business, except that police officers – who he says used to pat them down and search their vans for guns and drugs – now come by their off-duty hours for a wash and a wax. The customers keep coming just as they used to, and Kevin and his misfits keep ignoring the strange looks from passersby who are quick to make assumptions based on how they dress and act.