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Meet Individual Dry Cleaners

In a nutshell:  Providing cleaning services for hundreds of thousands of items is hard work, but it makes you feel good going home at the end of the day. The biggest challenge? Working with treasured items that are more about a memory than the fabric — particularly fragile or even sometimes not well manufactured items — making it so you have to pull a miracle out of your hat. What makes it worthwhile at the end of the day, is that we help our customers look their best. 

 # of Employees:  Usually 27 including Ken, myself (Sheralyn) as well as Yvonne and Suzanne, our daughters, who both started as afterschool girls at the age of 15 and are still here after over 25 years. There are 15 on premises here, plus the staff in our other locations. Our staff is great, most have been with us for over 20 years. It is heartwarming to see that so many of our employees started their careers with us working after school and remain with us until - and sometimes past - retirement. We have lots of fun.

Industry Sector: Service industry

Area of Town: The main store is in Victoria near Oak Bay junction and we have four other branches in Fairfield Plaza, on Oak Bay Avenue, in Broadmead and in Shelbourne Plaza Square.

Primary Product/Service:  Drycleaning, shirt laundry, household and repairs and making our customers look pressed to perfection.

Annual Revenue: Over 1 million.

How would you describe Individual Dry Cleaners in 30 words or less?

It was established in 1946 - family owned and operated - and is now in the fourth generation. The secret to our success - great service and quality work. Well and of course our staff. We are fortunate to have great staff that are more like family. Most of them have been here a long time and environment is very important to us. 

What is the best part about doing business in
Greater Victoria?
Loyal customers and fun customers. So many of our customers are great people that we look forward to seeing each week and can joke around with them and just howl laughing together.

What is the best thing Individual Dry Cleaners is doing for Greater Victoria?
Our bags are environmentally safe and biodegradable, and we recapture our solvents from our waste water. The machines we use are very environmentally friendly, and though this industry isn’t strictly regulated, we are very self-regulated. We’ve worked with the CRD over the years to ensure our waste water is being properly filtered and maintained.

We clean sleeping bags for the police department in support of their program taking underprivileged children camping. We donate gift certificates to schools, as well as local fundraising and sponsorship. At the end of the year we gather all the garments that haven't been claimed in over a year and donate them all to charities.  

What is it like working at Individual Dry Cleaners?
My dad had brought me here when I was a wee thing and I played in the baskets and always said, “This is what I want to do when I grow up.” Oh if only I had known how much hard work was to follow!

Denise Peach, one of the the longtime employees, describes working at Individual Dry Cleaners as, "I honestly think it’s a lot like working with family. It’s a really good calming environment, where we all care about each other. I think of Sheralyn like a mother, she’s been there a lot for me. It’s really a homey place to work. Aside from the obvious – that it’s incredibly hot in the summer – other than that I totally enjoy work and I love it here. I’ve worked here 10 years, since I was 19. There’s a real sense of community and family. I can’t imagine doing anything else. My mother-in-law originally worked here and she got me the job, and I’ve never left since. A lot of our customers know the counter girls by name, and it’s very personal here which is a very unique service these days."

What are 3 things few people know about Individual Dry Cleaners?

This may seem like a simple industry, but there is a lot of learning involved in getting to know how to do everything properly. Tagging clothes seems easy until you realize how quickly a few small mistakes can cost a lot of money to fix! The girls here are very talented, and people might not believe it, but it requires significant skill.

We get insight into the economy from what types of clothing people are having cleaned, a few years ago we could tell men were wearing fewer suits because we hardly saw any being cleaned. However lately we are seeing a lot of suits as well as women’s cocktail dresses again so it’s a good sign the economy is picking up. We can really gauge what’s going on in Victoria by the clothes that come in!

I think few people know how long we’ve been in service and how many generations of people have worked here!

Here at Individual Dry Cleaners we’re proudest of:
The people we work with and the people we help. Many customers come here just to see our staff. We've even had a customer write a poem about Darlene who works on the counter full time - and has been here well over 30 years - that ended up published in an article by Jack Knox in the Times Colonist!

I’m also very proud saying that I own it. I wanted this so badly, it was all I ever wanted. I love the public, I love talking to people and having fun with them in the morning. I was so proud of my dad and I feel like I’ve continued his legacy. Over the years it’s given our family a good living and it feels like we’ve employed nearly everyone. People come in all the time telling me one of their family members have worked here at some point over the years.

Other fun facts about Individual Dry Cleaners
Whenever stars come to town we do their dry cleaning. We’ve done it for Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, Michael Bublé, Brian Adams, the Canadian Tenors, the prince of Brunei, and many more. We’re even famous, The Book of Ruth was filmed here and I was in it!

For more information about Individual Dry Cleaners check out their Chamber Directory Listing .


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