Even though D.O. Summers Cleaners, a dry cleaning business with 12 locations in Northeast Ohio, was an essential business during Ohio’s stay-at-home order, company president Dustin Goldberg said that didn’t make it immune to the same issues many other industries were facing.
“A whole lot changed, specifically that business has not been great,” he said. “The new normal is that people have stopped going to work and dressing up, and there has been a significant decrease in life events, and that has taken a toll on dry cleaning.”
Goldberg, who lives in Gates Mills and attends Temple Israel Ner Tamid in Mayfield Heights, said they have seen an uptick in more domestic business with household items like sheets and towels. He also said many of the locations already promote social distancing and cleanliness guidelines.
“Eight out of our 12 locations are drive-thru and two of the other ones are locker based, so they’re already traditionally non-contact,” he said. “Between those stores, we have adapted. The stores without those features have sneeze guards.”
Over the last few months, Goldberg said managers, assistant managers and district managers have been working full-time to provide the same-day service that “D.O. Summers prides itself in.”
“At the core level of our business, one thing came to light more recently that dry cleaning as a process deeply sanitizes garments,” he said. “Between the heat, fluids and solvents, it sanitizes. I think people were first looking at (dry cleaning) as a convenience or a luxury, but now they’re looking at it as going above and beyond the home wash.”
But due to the inevitable drop in sales, Goldberg said his team made the difficult decision to furlough some employees. Though they are all back now and the locations are back to their normal hours of operation, he described the process as “disheartening.”
“We’ve been in business since 1881 and my family bought the business in the 1930s during the Great Depression,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had to furlough anyone ever. I was talking about it with my father and grandfather, and it’s something we’ve never done and hopefully will never do again.”
As a business owner of multiple operations, Goldberg worked to determine which could make the most impact helping the community during the pandemic. He decided that his doughnut shop, Goldie’s Donuts and Bakery in Lyndhurst, could make a difference.
“We donated about 1,400 doughnuts to Cleveland Clinic, Hillcrest Hospital and MetroHealth,” he said. “And we’re still doing it, so it’s probably more now. We were also doing a program where if people bought a dozen doughnuts, we’d donate a dozen. It’s about trying to give back and support those front-line workers.”
With everything in mind, Goldberg is clear that D.O. Summers will be OK.
“We’re proud to still be established and part of the community,” he said. “With time, all things will heal. We plan to be around. We’re lucky enough to own all of our locations and that is quite beneficial in situations like this. We’re fit and stable enough to handle something like this.”