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ZIPS Opens New Location in Newport News, Virginia

Store is fourth franchise site for owners Akaras, Hashmi

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — ZIPS Franchising LLC recently announced its newest location, a store owned by partners Tony Akaras and Shahid Hashmi in Newport News, Va. The store is the fourth owned by Akaras and Hashmi, who operate Tidewater Cleaners LLC.

Akaras and Hashmi opened their first ZIPS plant, where all cleaning and tailoring services occur on-site, in Essex, Md., in 2014. Earlier this year, they purchased a second plant in College Park, Md., from another franchisee, and opened a drop store, where items are received and returned to customers within the same timeframe and at the same cost as at plant locations, in Glen Burnie, Md. They plan to open at least two more ZIPS locations in Virginia and Maryland over the next two years. 

“We congratulate Tony and Shahid on their latest opening in Newport News,” says Bob Barry, president/CEO of ZIPS. “Our system thrives on ambitious operators like them, who are committed both to maximizing performance and customer satisfaction at each location and to adding locations to bring our popular offering to more communities. We look forward to seeing the Newport News store flourish and to celebrating with Tony, Shahid and other franchisees as we continue expanding our system with new locations in the future.”

The Newport News will serve as the processing site for a drop store that is scheduled to open in Williamsburg, Va., early next year. The model exemplifies the hub-and-spoke expansion strategy that facilitates growth within a market for franchisees, the announcement says, and allows them to maximize their investment in building and purchasing equipment for full-service plants. The College Park plant owned by Akaras and Hashmi will process items for a drop store in the area of Greenbelt and Hyattsville, Md., when that location opens later in 2024 or in early 2025.

Newport News was a natural choice for their latest expansion with ZIPS, Akaras explains, as he and Hashmi both have ties to the area via previous ownership of Popeyes restaurants there, including one immediately adjacent to the new store.

“We love Newport News and, after an extended development period brought on by the pandemic, we are proud to finally be bringing ZIPS to the area,” says Akaras. “Opening here gives us a great opportunity to provide an affordable, convenient and much-needed service to a community that has welcomed and supported us for many years.”

“We’re especially excited to be opening in the Sherwood Shopping Center, which recently welcomed the local police department — a potential source of both personal and commercial business for us as well as an added layer of safety” says Hashmi. “The strip mall is also scheduled to undergo major renovations soon, which will bring an influx of other commercial neighbors as well as shoppers to the site.”

This latest addition ZIPS location follows fast on the heels of another store debut last month in the Northwood section of Baltimore, adjacent Morgan State University. ZIPS now has 70 locations throughout the United States where both residential and commercial customers can bring their apparel and other items to be dry cleaned, cleaned and pressed, washed and folded and tailored.

ZIPS Opens New Location to Newport News, Virginia

ZIPS Cleaners franchisees Tony Akaras (left) and Shahid Hashmi recently opened their fourth location, a store in Newport News, Virginia, and have several more scheduled to open over the next two years. (Photo: ZIPS Franchising LLC)

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