New dry cleaners to open pick-up drop-off location

by Lauren Segal | 7/12/19 2:10am

Updated: July 12, 2019  at 11:38 a.m.

New London Cleaners is expected to open a pick-up and drop-off location in Hanover next Friday morning, according to New London Cleaners owner Jeff Owen. The business' new location will replace Kleen dry cleaners after its closure last month. 

Kleen dry cleaners, which had operated in the Upper Valley since the 19th century, closed its laundromats, drop-off locations and its central facilities in downtown Lebanon last month after several months of reported financial difficulty. 

According to Hanover town manager Julia Griffin, Kleen faced potential closure since early this winter, but renegotiations with the College, which was loaning out the space, allowed Kleen to remain in business.

“Quite frankly, there were signs already that Kleen was struggling; we were hearing through the grapevine that they were having financial difficulties,” Griffin said. “It was likely only a matter of time before we lost them due to their precarious financial situation.”

Griffin said that the closure of Kleen affected the whole Upper Valley as Kleen provided a convenient pick-up and drop-off location that was widely used by both local residents and individuals who work in downtown Hanover.

“I just had a pile of clothes and nowhere to take them,” said Enfield resident Sue Hagerman, who frequented Kleen dry cleaners prior to its closure.

Upon the announcement that Kleen was going out of business, many Upper Valley residents turned to New London Cleaners, a family owned and operated cleaning service. 

“Immediately, folks pounced on New London Cleaners to see if they might convince them to provide pick-up and drop-off service in Hanover,” Griffin said.

While this pressure from distressed residents pushed New London Cleaners to open the Hanover location, the decision was primarily made due to the increased volume of customers and potential business opportunity, according to Owen.

Hagerman said that she was pleased about the New London Cleaners’ Hanover location.

“It was all over the Enfield listserv about the lack of laundry services in town,” Hagerman said. “There was a flurry of emails when it was announced that New London Cleaners would open in Hanover.”

Despite Kleen’s closure, Griffin expects that New London Cleaners will not face the same difficulties that forced its predecessor out of business. Owen is very cautious about how much he wants to expand, and New London Cleaners will not be providing institutional laundry services for hospitals, police departments and fire departments the way Kleen did before its closure, according to Griffin.

Although Griffin does not expect New London Cleaners to follow in Kleen’s steps, she noted that dry cleaning services are declining nationwide in the face of the comparative popularity of wash-and-wear fabrics and casual clothing choices. While Kleen faced its own financial difficulties on the micro level, Griffin suggests that its closure was related to a widespread trend.

“[Kleen’s closure] is a reflection of what’s happening in the clothing and cleaning markets. I think fewer and fewer people need dry-cleaning services, but it’s still a service that many people rely on, so we were sad when we watched Kleen make the decision to close down,” Griffin said.

Owen, however, is confident in the market for dry cleaning services.  

“The clothing attire in this area is always dry-cleaning-based,” Owen said. “Hanover, because of the hospital and the College, has plenty of dry cleaning customers.”