CHICAGO — In this, the first of our new special called “Cuppa Joe,” you can get a taste of how a fellow owner does business in your drycleaning world. Today, meet drycleaning owner Joe Giaramita, sharing how he learned cleaning and spotting; how he bought the business from his father; and about cleaning,“mail-in items from clothiers all over his state.”
“I started to build a reputation for cleaning items that no one else would touch.” — Joe.
“At work, I practiced spotting and pressing clothes until I mastered my trade and as I learned fabrics I became more daring in my spotting techniques. I took risks that most wouldn’t dare to try, and I learned trial by error.” — Joe.
“If something didn’t work I went back to the drawing board and tried again until it worked.” — Joe.
These are, for lack of a better word, “Joe-isms,” quotes from one drycleaning owner you should really get to know.
The “Joe” is Joe Giaramita.
His White Dove Cleaners was established in Red Bank, N.J. in 1996, he tells me.
“It was started by my father, Phil Giaramita,” Joe explains. “He was in the business for over 15 years and decided to retire and sell the store.”
First gulp: Joe tells how he started: “I was tired of working in NYC so I told him maybe I’ll come work here. So in 2000, I did not know anything about the drycleaning business, and went to the National Cleaners Association (NCA) in New York. Dan Eisen was my teacher for spotting. Worked open-to-close everyday and went to school at night for six months. I grouped all my classes together so I could get done as fast as I could; spotting was two times a week and pressing was two times a week. I come from an operations background, so making things more efficient and productive was my thing.... so I did it here.”
Joe talks about location, location, location: “We then focused on building a location — to accommodate our drop stores, routes and over the counter customers — that was state-of the-art in New Jersey.
“So we built a 10,000 sq. ft. drive-thru plant. We carefully designed this plant with everything in mind. Roomy, plenty of space behind equipment for easy repairs, high ceilings, storage loft for storing seasonal items and larger jobs, and an upscale lobby for greeting our customers, and of course the first drive-thru in our area.”
Joe got with the times: “On our app, we have a feature that allows our customers to ping us when they are on their way and prepay. So when they pull up to the drive-thru, we put the clothes in the car and they are on their way in 10 seconds.”
More sips: “We cater to a high-end clientele, offering VIP hand-pressed garments. When you receive it back it is flawless! So it is important to have the expertise to handle those items.”
Mail it in: “We service a lot of custom clothiers and high-end clothing stores all over the state and they mail us items that customers cannot get cleaned by their local cleaner, or our customers just trust us so much, they would rather just deal with us no matter where they live.
“The most expensive garment I have handled was a $55,000 wedding gown. So they mail us a box of their clothes and schedule a day for pickup or we ship it back out to them. The items range from $5,000 Brioni suits and $500 Kiton shirts to a range of designer jeans, Valentino dresses and fancy gowns.”
Joe says he emailed a few of his customers for thoughts and here is what was replied back to him:
From a customer named Chris: “Joe, anything for you! I send you my clothes all the way from Charleston, S.C., because I spend a fortune on my clothes and you’re the only one I can trust. Always consistent, always perfect and always on time! The way you package it, gets back to me like I picked it up at your store an hour ago! I do miss seeing you guys every week!”
From a customer named Scott who says Joe has been his dry cleaner for 25 years: “I moved to Boston five years ago. You told me about the mail-in option. After the first few times, I was hooked. Definitely something Joe has perfected and it amazes me how good everything looks when I get it back.... where I couldn’t get a shirt down the street to look like that.”
From a customer named Valerie: “I live in Northern New Jersey, I travel to the Shore every weekend. I do not trust anyone to clean all my St. John Knits but you. I mail my clothes out on Thursday morning, Saturday morning I pick them up at your store. Love you guys.”
Final taste: When asked what makes his store unique, here are Joe’s concluding words: “What makes us unique?.... hmmm. I guess we all have our niches: price, quality, convenient. We were voted #1 in Monmouth and Ocean counties six years in a row. I never say we are the best, our customers do.”
That was your first Cuppa Joe special feature. This owner shared his business experiences in the drycleaning industry first-hand. Thanks Joe Giaramita!
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected] .