A local YMCA is losing hundreds of towels a day, and it is costing the facility thousands of dollars every month.
Most are being taken by accident, but officials hope a new device will help curb the growing problem of the disappearing laundry.
"$30,000 a year replacing towels," said Brett Peterson, membership director at the YMCA of Middle Tennessee.
A missing towel may not seem like a big deal, but it is often the first thing members reach for when they come in for their workouts. Thousands of towels a month are escaping from the Maryland Farms YMCA in Brentwood.
Starting this week, an audible reminder will sound if members try to walk out the door with a towel.
"I am a definite culprit, and I return them. I wash them and return them most of the time, but it would probably be good to have a reminder," said member Janis Lovecchio.
"It's unintentional, towels going out the door. So, people forget. They have it around their neck and in their bag, and they forget and just walk out the door," Peterson said.
The Maryland Farms facility is the first YMCA in the Mid-State to use the radio frequency identification technology. A Lebanon company is sewing a label onto the YMCA new towels, and it emits a radio frequency signal capable of sounding an alarm as members reach the exit.
Staff members said the system is not meant to embarrass any of their 2,500 members. Rather, the point is to save a couple thousand dollars a month that they can then put back into YMCA camps and counseling programs.
The pilot program is sponsored by a national cost management company that picked up the cost of the equipment for the Maryland Farms YMCA.
If all goes well, other YMCAs in the region may begin using the same towel inventory system.
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