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How Garment Care Owners Are Coping With COVID-19 Right Now

First-person thoughts from drycleaning operators around the U.S.

CHICAGO — COVID-19 is affecting all parts of our world right now. In the garment care industry we asked several drycleaning owners to tell us how they are coping with the coronavirus.

The following are opinions expressed to this editor in the last two days from owners and operators, remaining anonymous, in different regions of the United States:

From the Midwest: “My friend who also owns a cleaners in another city and I both have been proactively calling every single customer who has an in-store order and offering them complimentary delivery along with our normal route customers.

“The customers have been super appreciative of that offer and we have seen a high success rate with it. Hopefully we can retain them as regular route customers. It’s also helping keep things moving for now. I also reduced hours at two of my other smaller stores temporarily. Other than that, my staff is working through things with me. Counter traffic has slowed but we’re still seeing some activity.”

From the West Coast: “I am a very positive person but in this case I don't have anything positive to say. No one in our lifetime has seen anything like this. Business will decline before it gets better. When our clients are not working, they don't have anything to dry clean. I am most concerned about our team members. The staff will be eligible for unemployment benefits.”

From the East Coast: “I have a steam trap heat gun for testing traps. To educate staff I gathered them around a press and explained the ‘inactivation’ of the bacteria and viruses on dry-cleaned or wet-cleaned clothes with temperatures of 158 F for 30 minutes. All this is in accordance with W.H.O.

“Then we went over to my dc unit while it was in the middle of the dry cycle, I aimed it at just the glass door.… 186 F, then back over to the press and had one of them hit the steam petal and I aimed it at the pad.… 366 F!

Also…. When I’m at the counter, I bring out the steam trap heat gun to have fun with my customers, as to the temperature of their forehead, then go into my story of 366 F steam. Lightens the severity of this situation and they seem to be impressed.”

From the South: “Our pickup and delivery service is available. We are committed to the safety of our staff, customers, and community during this time. Our stores and facilities are being kept clean and sanitized for everyone’s safety.”