North Park dry cleaners survived pandemic now closing due to high rent

[ – 2021.11.04] SAN DIEGO — Clothes continue to rotate and are pressed and cleaned at Hangers Cleaners. “North Park customers do not have large orders. They have you know, one or two pieces. We refer to them as the ‘wedding and the funeral’ customers,” said Hangers Cleaners owner Gordon Shaw.

From wedding gowns to whole loads of laundry, Shaw loves that customers depend on him to help them look nice.

“They come pick it up and can see the yellow dress is bright yellow and without a wrinkle and ready to go for Saturday night. I actually enjoy that part,” Shaw said.

Shaw has been a dry cleaner since 1978 and has had the 2,500-square-ft. storefront at 30th and Lincoln since 2001. His business was featured in Newsweek Magazine in 2006 for being an “OG,” or originally green business.

Shaw is not ready to shut down. The boiler is still new.

“It’s terrible you know, to be honest with you,” he said. “This is what I’ve done for the last 45 years.”

The pandemic hit the dry cleaning industry hard with a 75% business drop that still hasn’t bounced back with more customers working from home and not dressing up. Then Shaw’s rent went up to $9,000 a month.

“Between employees and rent, I can’t come close to covering it,” said Shaw, a U.S. Navy veteran from Philadelphia.

Shaw has been struggling to pay rent this year and now attorneys are involved. His landlord, the San Diego County Commercial Property Management, who also owns the nearby AutoZone and Donut Factory, released the following statement:

“Since the onset of the Pandemic, we have contacted and met with Mr. Shaw multiple times in attempt to work in partnership to resolve this. Over this time, all of the offers and solutions we have presented to him – from payment plans to sublease options – have been rejected. To date, Mr. Shaw owes SDCCPM $73,023.49. It is always a last resort for us, but unfortunately, reclaiming our space seems to be the only way for SDCCPM to keep this large debt from growing.”

Across the street from Hangers Cleaners, Toronado has closed, and the Belching Beaver has paper on its windows. With two employees left, including his best friend Doug, and a woman who started this week, Shaw said he’s not hanging it up. He is moving business to a friend’s cleaners and will do home delivery service full time.

Customer Juan Cordero started coming to Hangers Cleaners after learning that it provided space and electricity for the “community fridge” in 2020 that helped people in need store and eat refrigerated food.

“I feel like North Park values small businesses, and we want to support them, and we frankly don’t need another coffee shop or like boutique gym studio. We need more mom-and-pop places,” Cordero said.

Shaw hasn’t given a final shop closing date but says it will be soon.

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