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Dry cleaning industry hit hard by COVID-19, work-from-home policies

Posted at 12:16 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 18:13:27-04

CLEVLEAND — Several industries across the nation have transitioned from traditional office settings to at-home work setups. Some even recently announced plans to allow employees to work remotely through 2021.

This is leaving dry cleaning companies scrambling to find other sources of revenue.

The owner Sunshine Dry Cleaners, located on Rocky River Dr. in Cleveland, said since March business has tumbled.

“Our industry basically came to a pause," said Dan Loescher. “Our hotel business just dropped off. Our retail business was gone.”

Loescher said a large portion of his company's revenue comes from partnerships and routes in downtown Cleveland. The business cleans garments for major hotels and other businesses which host weddings, banquets and conferences. But, with little to no travelings and hardly any events in sight, they're struggling to make ends meet.

“When that stopped, our services were no longer needed," he said. "We prepared for what we thought would be a very short-lived shutdown. We now know, three months later, that it was way more than that."

Loescher said in May Sunshine Dry Cleaners brought in just $18 from downtown routes and businesses. Overall, the company is down 41% year-to-year. And with more companies allowing employees to work remotely, retail business has been down as well.

“If someone sliced your pay by more than 41% you would have to make some hard decisions, too," the owner said.

Loescher said he and the company's general manager went through expenses line by line to see where they could make cuts. "Everything was on the table."

The reality for Sunshine Dry Cleaners—and the dry cleaning industry as a whole—Loescher said, is business will struggle until more employees are back in the office generating regular visits from customers.

Throughout the last five months, Loescher said he's learned that failure comes in several forms. But instead of sitting around, harping on lost revenue he has to figure out new and creative ways to generate income.

“As long as you’re willing to look the animal in the eye and give it a fight, there’s no failure," he said.

The owner is also begging for people to wear their masks, socially distance and to support local businesses.

“We don’t have corporate to fall back on," Loescher said. "This is not a joke, wear your mask and let’s get through this thing together. Let’s get over this pandemic together. We’re here for you if you need us. We never closed our doors.”