LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Businesses like restaurants and bars have been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, but plenty of other industries have also been struggling since March.
“The dry cleaners has been a really lonely guy since March,” said Michael Jones, the owner of Highland Cleaners. Jones said that 2020 has dealt crushing blows to the dry cleaning business.
“In March and April, we were devastated about 30% of our normal businesses,” he said. "It’s climbed back to about 50%, 55%, but it’s been a very difficult year for dry cleaners.”
The drop off in business is because a bulk of people still work from home. People haven’t been going to their places of worship as much, no graduation parties, and no massive Derby rush this year.
“You have a wardrobe some of which goes to the washing machine and some of which goes to the dry cleaner. The clothes that go to the dry cleaner are not being worn,” said Jones.
Highland Cleaners has tried to keep safety a priority for customers and employees. Workers are required to wear masks, management makes sure everyone is making the extra effort to wipe down surfaces while remaining socially distant, and sorting the incoming clothes.
“We are taking extra efforts to separate the soiled clothes and the non-soiled clothes just like a medical-grade laundry,” said Jones.
Customers drop off and pick up their clothes using the drive-thru, yet another measure to try and limit the spread of COVID-19.
“This is a location that has a drive-thru, all the customers go through the drive-thru. It’s a little bit better for physical separation and less contact,” said Jones.
The holidays typically would be where business picks up, but this year with health experts recommending limited family celebrations and travel, that won’t be the case. Jones said business won’t return until the pandemic is under control when life returns to normalcy. They’re bracing for the long haul like so many other locally owned businesses.
“Everybody thinks about the restaurant business, concert business, but there’s plenty of ancillary businesses that are also struggling, and the dry cleaning business is one of those,” he said.