ATLANTA — After a year’s delay, The Clean Show finally brought dry cleaners and other members of the professional textile care industry back together. The biggest such show in North America, this year’s event took place from July 30 through August 2 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
Early estimates shared by Clean Show Director Greg Jira of Messe Frankfurt, the organizer of this year's show, found that, by the final day, the attendance for the 2022 show was running with expectations, just a few hundred behind those of the previous Clean Show, held in New Orleans in 2019. Approximately 11,000 attendees visited that show. Messe Frankfurt also stated that about 350 exhibitors took the floor for the event.
For many dry cleaners, their days were split between attending educational sessions sponsored by the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI), CINET and other organizations, and then hitting the show floor to see new technology in action, learn about tools available to them and connect with both old and new friends.
Marc Poling, the owner of the Tampa, Florida-based Mango Cleaners & Laundry, found no lack of ideas at the show to try when he returned home. “It’s been fabulous,” he says, “One of the key things, I think, is that you can’t implement everything at the same time. You start with one thing and do it one step at a time.”
Poling came to the show to learn about adding wet cleaning services to his company. “If we do that, I’m looking to purchase tensioning equipment and presses,” he says. “But one of the things I've found at the Clean Shows, and I've been to many, is that I always come back with something that's new — a product or a way to do business better.”
Some exhibitors found that the cleaners who stopped by their booth shared Polling’s stance of wanting to get started on the next chapter of their business. Whether it was because of the delay in this year’s show because of the pandemic, changing economic trends, evolving customer behaviors, or a combination of all this and more, this year’s Clean Show held added emphasis for them.
“I think I’ve seen more of a buyer focus than I have at some previous Clean Shows,” says Tim Maxwell, president of GreenEarth Cleaning, an exhibitor at the event. “Before, there would be a lot of tire kickers, just kind of exploring what was going on. With this show, in our experience and with some of the vendors I’ve spoken with, there have been a lot of triggers pulled here. The cleaners are talking to vendors about specific things they want and when they want them. They are in a buying mentality.”
Maxwell believes he knows why cleaners attending the show were demonstrating this shift in attitude: “They’ve weathered the storm, and now they want to take it to the next level and get what they need to do so.”
“Years ago, I heard speakers say that if you’re simply in the drycleaning business, you’re going out of business,” Poling says. “That prompted me to really concentrate on wash-dry-fold early on, and that thinking has really helped.” Ideas like this are why Poling comes to events like the Clean Show. “I can’t believe that every cleaner doesn’t come, but I’m happy a lot of my competitors don’t.”
American Drycleaner will have much more coverage of the Clean Show, including coverage of educational sessions and new products, in our October print edition.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].