What’s the best way to find a quality dry cleaner? What happens to my expensive clothing if I use one that’s not so great?
To answer this all-important question, we asked Mark Neighbors, a former
upscale menswear merchant who now runs Parkway Cleaners, a widely-respected family dry-cleaning establishment in Edmond, Okla. Here are his
top eight tips:
1. The first thing you must do is meet the owner. If he wears unkempt, worn-out
or out-of-style clothes, then he probably doesn’t understand what you want. The
best way to appreciate the value of good clothes is to wear them.
2. Does he actually work in the dry-cleaning operation or is he an absentee owner? I’ve never seen a good dry cleaner with an absentee owner. Dry
cleaning is a hands-on business, so the owner needs to be around the production
area every day. Few dry-cleaning establishments are large enough to pay
enough money to get a good-quality production manager.
3. Is the owner enthusiastic about what he does or just trying to make a living?
Like in the men’s clothing business, there are people who just own stores, and then there are merchants. Merchants take pride in what they do and are always looking to improve themselves, their staff and their business. Enthusiasm is an easy way to judge who these people are.
4. How high is the turnover of the staff? High turnover means a low-skilled staff
that will not have the experience to properly take care of your clothes. The average dry cleaner turns its staff 100% to 200% a year. We at Parkway have a 12% to 15% annual staff turnover.
5. Does the owner treat his people well when you see them interact? The staff are really the ones taking care of your clothes. They will give the same respect to your clothes as the respect they are given by the management/owner.
6. Those cleaners that use a hydro carbon (petroleum-based) solvent, liquid CO2 or K4 solvent are usually better dry cleaners. These solvents are gentler on your clothes but involve more work for the dry cleaner. There are some very good cleaners who use a solvent called perc, but almost all of the bad dry cleaners also use perc.
7. Never go to a discount dry cleaner: They cut corners and will ruin your
clothes. Good dry cleaners call these the “bang ’em and hang ’em” cleaners: They bang the press head down on the clothes before hanging since they rely on volume to make a profit.
8. If the operating plant where your clothes are actually cleaned is dirty or in disrepair, then they probably take little pride in their operation and will not take pride in cleaning and pressing your clothes. Just as you’d never eat in a restaurant with a dirty kitchen, why trust someone in a dirty facility who’s supposed to be cleaning your clothes?
At Garys, we recommend CDM Cleaners: https://cdmcleaners.com/