Does personal service, price or both make a business a success on the North Shore?
That issue has become front and center for dry cleaners in Deerfield and Highland Park as CD One Price Cleaner plans to bring a new business model to Deerfield this summer.
When dry cleaners from around the area learned CD One Price planned to clean apparel for $2.79 per item and launder clothes for $1.49 each and offer no other service, more than 65 of them came to the Deerfield Village Board of Trustees meeting Jan. 21 to protest.
DC One Price will not handle specialty items like comforters nor even wedding dresses. There will be no tailoring. The existing cleaners fear this will cut into their business to the point some, if not all, will be driven out of business.
“The end result will be a loss of revenue and jobs in the Village,” Jemma Jones of Commons Cleaners said. “This is a small village for eight cleaners,” she added referring to the existing number of establishments.
Several of the trustees, some of who are satisfied customers of the existing cleaners, believe the personal attention and extended services of those businesses will help them keep their customer base and remain part of the commercial community.
“The reason (you are) so successful is because of the service you provide,” Trustee Robert Benton said. “I do believe that because of that your core customers will continue to come to you. This is why you are here and why you will stay here.”
Susie Riu, whose mother operates Deerfield Cleaners, told her family’s American success story. Her mother emigrated from South Korea, went to work for what was then Shim’s Cleaners in Deerfield, and eventually bought the business changing the name. She fears for the future.
“Everywhere I go (in Deerfield) people know me because of my mother,” Riu said. “When she started off there were two dry cleaners and now there are eight. Because of the economy (and CD One Price) there will be some empty spaces.”
Trustee Alan Farkas made it clear he is satisfied with the service he gets from the dry cleaner he patronizes and has no plans to change. “I will stay with the people who provide the service I need,” he said.
Some of the existing cleaners wanted to assure the Board they were as environmentally friendly as CD One Price claims it will be. “We are green,” Osterman Cleaners Angela Kim said. “We exceed all state regulations. We study and test for the greenest way to clean.”
There was also disagreement on what research has shown happens in a community when a low price cleaner moves in. “In other towns where CD (One Price) comes in other places close,” Steve Saks, an attorney for some of the existing cleaners, said.
Saks likened CD One Price to Walmart in its effect on existing smaller cleaners when it arrives in a community.
Mayor Harriet Rosenthal does not see it that way. “We have done research,” she said. “When a one price cleaner has come in the moms and pops have not gone out of business.”