Groveland Cleaners, the anchor of the Groveland Center in Somers Point for 40 years, is larger and more established than the typical owner/operated dry cleaner.
But Blair Rosenfeld is still a hands-on owner, maintaining the machines and handling most of the spot removal himself. His cleaning challenges sometimes go beyond red wine, grease and salad dressing.
“I’ve had some police officers come in with a lot of blood all over their uniforms. They broke up a fight or something,” said Rosenfeld, 52, of Northfield. “We do a big police business. We give a discount for cleaning the uniforms of military, police and fire personnel.”
More often, though, he sees UGG boots needing their suede leather cleaned and garments requiring expert tailoring.
The most popular service is same-day dry cleaning, he said, and the key to that is simple: “Our hours are second to none.”
Groveland Cleaners is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week … even Sundays.
“We tell people you can drop off in the morning and you don’t have to rush back before dinner. You can come back at your convenience,” Rosenfeld said.
Another big draw is the large coin-operated laundry, with four sizes of washers to handle everything up to the biggest slipcovers and bedspreads. The machines were updated a few years ago and the place is kept spiffy, he said.
Groveland Cleaners — with four employees and about half a million dollars in annual revenue — is a more robust business than most in the $20 billion dry cleaning industry, where median annual sales are less than $250,000, according to the Dry Cleaning & Laundry Institute International.
Dry cleaners tend to be individual operations or small local chains. The nation’s largest chain of franchise cleaners, Martinizing Dry Cleaning, has 175 franchisees and 600 stores, just 2 percent of the 30,000 U.S. cleaning facilities, research by Los Angeles-based Fulcrum Inquiry says.
Groveland Cleaners also has a history that begins with one of those small chains.
Rosenfeld said his father, Jules, started in the cleaning business in Woodbine and developed 11 stores in Cape May County.
In 1972, Jules Rosenfeld, now 92 and living in Egg Harbor Township, built the Groveland shopping center with the late Dr. Herbert Levine, whose son, Larry, is an eye doctor in the center now and partner in the center, Blair Rosenfeld said.
“My father is one of those guys who didn’t retire at 65, or 75, but just kept working,” Rosenfeld said. “Now he just works on the shopping center a little bit and plays golf three days a week. He’s a natural born businessman.”
The Groveland Center and its big cleaners did so well, that the elder Rosenfeld sold his Cape May County stores to his brother.
Blair Rosenfeld said he came into the business at 21, after college, and learned to fix all the machines and all aspects of the business, and became an owner very gradually.
“Every five or six years, my father would give me another 5 percent of the business. I didn’t get all of my shares until I was about 45,” Rosenfeld said. “I appreciated it much more the way I got it.”
Now the son is applying his own business sense to guiding Groveland Cleaners through the U.S. economic slump, which has seen demand increase for the coin-operated machines and lessen for dry cleaning.
That means giving customers 20 percent off their dry cleaning if they pay in advance, and having two of everything, so if something breaks the service isn’t interrupted.
“When the economy dropped out, even loyal people were looking to spend less,” Rosenfeld. “Now the interest in quality is coming back.”
Location: 501 New Road, Groveland Center, Somers Point
Owners: Blair Rosenfeld, 52, of Northfield, and sisters Janet Bishop and Nancy Rosenfeld
Revenue: $500,000 annually
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