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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thoughtful

While writing this blog post, I pondered titles. All kinds of ideas ran through my mind and as they did, I kept coming back to this word – ‘thoughtful’. So I decided to look up the definition of thoughtful. Here’s what thefreedictionary.com said:

1. Engrossed in thought; contemplative.
2. Exhibiting or characterized by careful thought.
3. Having or showing heed for the well-being or happiness of others and a propensity for anticipating their needs or wishes.

I’d like to introduce you to Tim Rolle, Manager of A Cleaner World in Apex and a person that exemplifies thoughtful. Here are three reasons to support my statement.

1. Besides dabbling in social media, I am also an accountant. One thing I always appreciated and liked about Tim is that his paperwork was always precise. And if it wasn’t, he’d take the time and put careful thought toward finding and fixing the issue.
2. Some time ago, Tim was at the corporate office for some training. He brought each of the ladies in the office a small box of Godiva Truffles. I don’t think I need to expand on this one any further.
3. Earlier this year, Tim was leaving his store around 5:30 on a Saturday. A customer pulled into the parking lot and saw the store was closed but noticed someone in a car trying to get her attention. It was Tim, and he asked her if she needed to pick up dry cleaning. He offered to open the store back up for her. She was so grateful as her husband needed his clothes for a trip he was leaving for the next day. She sent Chris Edwards, President of A Cleaner World, a note a few days later expressing her gratitude for Tim going out of his way to make sure she was taken care of. Furthermore she went on to say that not only did Tim remember her last name, but he recalled her husband’s first name and remembered details of conversations they’d had about their family.

Now I rest my case. Those examples are just three of many that show how thoughtful Tim Rolle really is.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Office Tradition

I love Christmas. I especially love Christmas Parties. Well it’s more like I love food – and the food served at Christmas Parties always tastes especially good to me.

When I started at A Cleaner World, there was a Christmas Celebration in place – a breakfast where the District Managers and the head of maintenance would cook for the office staff. They also cleaned up the mess. The menu was two different breakfast sandwiches, and there were no special orders.

It’s funny how things evolve over time. The no special order rule got thrown out the window when I arrived. As the other guys cooked, Mike Feudale would run around the office before assembly to see who had a special order. Then the menu expanded as folks brought a cheeseball, veggies, and a cookie plate.

In the beginning we exchanged small gifts. But one year we had a long-time employee get diagnosed with a terminal illness. That year we decided to pool our money together and give it to that family. That was a good thing. After that, we started playing ‘Dirty Santa’. Dirty Santa was always lots of fun – especially the year that someone decided to bring a cake from Ganache Bakery. There was a battle for that one – and I am proud to say that I walked away with it!

I have fond memories of that annual celebration. My guess is that they’ll be having it again this week. I’d like to go ahead and place my special order…and of course I’ll be having a diet coke with it.

Whatever your celebrations or traditions – we wish you a Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Commercial and Uniform Division

I recently talked with my favorite A Cleaner World runner, Mike Feudale, to learn more about a new business we ventured into about a year ago – Commercial Services. I started by admitting that I didn’t know much about the industry. So he first told me everything that’s offered:

• Bar towels
• Shop towels
• Wet and dry mops
• Restroom supplies
• Aprons
• Customized uniforms
• Indoor and outdoor mats, which can have logos or special messages
• Direct sell, with very competitive prices, logoed items like t-shirts and ball caps

I took lots of notes on the process, but let me cut the boring stuff out and tell you the cool stuff. You sign up for the service. You tell us the items you need. Together we set up a schedule based on what’s best for your business. We come when we’re supposed to. We take the dirty stuff. We bring you fresh stuff. My 5 year old son would describe the set up as “easy peasy lemon squeezy.”

Besides the easy part, there are other advantages to using our commercial services:

• Uniforms and mats make a business look professional
• Mats stop 70% of dirt on shoes from going past the front door
• Mats also help during inclement weather to prevent slip hazards
• Renting doesn’t require a large upfront financial investment
• Worn out items are replaced automatically
• Items are properly maintained
• Products are better quality than those purchased retail by the general public
• We’re associated with Apparelmaster, a 72 unit franchise that gives us the bulk buying power to keep prices low and quality high
• We’re a small local family owned business that responsive to our customer’s needs. We live and work here too.

Our customers are happy. Just ask Sarah and Justin, owners of CafĂ© Roche in Winston-Salem. They called late one afternoon because they had just run out of bar towels. They weren’t scheduled for service for a few more days. Scottie, the division’s Sales Manager 336-870-6299, gladly made an additional delivery after closing to make sure they were set for the next business day. “Not only do they do a great job with the routine service,” said Sarah, “but they came through for us when we were in a pinch. We couldn’t be more pleased.”

So the bottom line is this -- If you have a front door, we can help you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Tree Safety

I have so many fond childhood memories. Here’s one of my favorite – for years on the day after Thanksgiving, we’d drive to Darwin Reugers’, a man my parents knew that had a tree farm, house to pick out and cut the Christmas tree. Then we would head home to decorate the tree. It was a huge tradition, and my mom would always have something special baked. Of course, we’d have hot chocolate too. My husband and I have started a similar tradition with our son. In fact, he started asking about the tree about a week before Thanksgiving.

According to fire-extinguisher101.com, fires during the holiday season injure approximately 2600 people and cause over $930 million in damage annually. Chuck Brammer, President/Owner of A Cleaner World Restoration Dry Cleaning, shares some tips to help ensure you and your family have a safe Christmas:

• It is best to buy a tree that is still growing and cut it yourself. If you are buying one that is pre-cut, make sure it is still healthy.
• Be sure the tree has a fresh cut before putting it into your stand. Once cut, tree trunks typically seal over within 12 hours, preventing them from soaking up water.
• Before taking it in, repeatedly drop the tree trunk on an outdoor surface until most of the old, dry needles have fallen off or have the tree farm put it through the machine that shakes and wraps it.
• Water the tree daily.
• Keep the tree away from heat sources because heat dries out trees. The cooler it stays, the better.
• Be careful not to overload outlets. It is best not to link more than three strands of lights together unless the instructions specifically say it is fine.
• Don’t leave the lights on while gone or asleep.

We hope these tips help you have a safe and Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

25th Give A Kid A Coat Campaign Wraps Up

Give A Kid A Coat wrapped up its 25th campaign a few days ago after collecting 20,846 coats this year, and over 744,000 coats inception to date. That’s a lot! As someone who has had the privilege of helping with this well-oiled machine, I’d like to say thanks to several groups.

First, a number of years ago Ray Edwards and his wife Sallie came up with the idea of sponsoring a coat drive in the Triad. I’m sure they had no idea at the time what an important role it would play in our community. Twenty-five years later, Chris Edwards still continues the tradition. I think it is important to thank the three of them for their lasting support. They would all shy away from this, pointing out that we should focus on the campaign and the need, not them. But it really couldn’t happen without their support.

I also think it is important to thank both A Cleaner World store managers and their staff. Many of them come in on Sundays to clean coats so that they are ready for The Salvation Army.

Speaking of The Salvation Army, there are so many individuals to thank there. From the truck driver that picks up the coats weekly to the employees and volunteers that help those find just the right coat to the captains and majors juggling lots of balls. The Salvation Army is full of kind-hearted generous people.

We can’t forget the folks at Fox 8 and 1075KZL. What an enthusiastic, talented, and passionate group! Every year they come to the table with new ideas to help make the campaign fresh and exciting.

Finally, thank you to everyone that donated a coat or money to purchase new coats. Obviously if there were no coats, then……

I know I’ve said before that Give A Kid A Coat is a group effort, and it really is. Each part is unique and equally important, and the program wouldn’t work if one piece was missing. Thanks to all the contributions, LOTS of Triad residents have been warm for the last 25 years.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Top 5 Don't Do's For Thanksgiving

Some of these things – like the pies and tablecloth - I admit to doing. Others – like the gross stuff - I was on the receiving end.

5. Don’t try to pass off a bakery pie as one of your own. Just fess up as you’ll be found out.
4. Don’t offer to make pies that you’ve never made before. I pride myself on being a pretty good cook and baker -- now. But when I was in college I offered to bring pecan pie – something I’d never made before. I forked the crust before putting the filling in and baking. The filling oozed under the crust making a soggy mess.
3. Don’t go off and leave a stick of butter defrosting in the microwave and then be surprised when you come back that it has melted all over the bottom of the microwave. Especially don’t try to use a pastry brush to sop it up to put on the bread anyway. Eeewwww.
2. Don’t drop off your tablecloth Wednesday afternoon – the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving. You’ll find yourself at Kohl’s late Wednesday evening purchasing a new one and then asking your mom to iron it Thanksgiving morning when she gets to your house.
1. Don’t clean your oven the morning of Thanksgiving. One year my mom got up extra early to do just that. Never having cleaned that oven before, she was surprised when after 3 hours she still couldn’t get the oven door unlocked. I think for the first time in her life a meal wasn’t done on time.

Bonus: If you are having overnight guests and having them stay in the neighbor’s camper trailer, don’t forget to check the bed for dead mice.

Here's wishing you a safe, enjoyable, and uneventful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's My Mom's Fault

I know that I am obsessed with being crisp and clean. I also know how I ended up this way. It’s my mom’s fault. It’s okay that I put this in writing as she will quickly admit to it. In fact, I once heard her apologize to my husband for making me this way.

It all happened very innocently. My parents were rather young when they had me. I was the first born, and my mom stayed at home. The bottom line is that she just never let me get dirty. I’d get something on me, and she’d immediately clean me up and change my clothes. Every night before my dad got home from work, she’d again clean me up, put a cute little dress on me, and sit me at the kitchen table to wait as she served dinner.

The thing is I’m happy to always be crisp and clean. I like the fact that I can ride in the car for 3 hours in a pair of khakis and still look freshly pressed. It makes me perfectly suited for a job in the dry cleaning industry. I like that my 9 year old Honda Accord looks almost new. That makes my husband happy. I like that the walls in my house always look like they’ve just been painted. It gives me personal satisfaction and visitors are impressed by it!

I could continue on but I think you get the idea. I spend lots of time keeping things just so, but there’s some kind of benefit to each aspect. So thank you mom for instilling this crazy behavior in me. It’s now a dream of mine to make my son the same way. His wife will someday thank me. I think I have a good start on him – after all he already knows about OxyClean.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Bit of Nostalgia

The older I get, the more nostalgic I become about things of the past. I find myself, now that I have a son, thinking about my grandparents – especially when I watch him interact with his. My how times have changed! He has terrific grandparents, and they are teaching him about working and enjoying simple things but still there’s the whole technology thing that we didn’t have at age 5 that often interferes.

My dad’s parents were farmers, and my sister and I would on occasion go stay with them for a few days. Compared to most homes in the late 70’s and early 80’s, their farm house was quite primitive. They did have a television but no air-conditioning and really no modern appliances. I still remember being fascinated with one particular item – the wringer washer.

My grandparents kept it in the cellar (in that type of environment a basement was a cellar), and when my sister and I were there, and if it were laundry day, we’d help. Given that was 30 years ago, I have trouble recalling many of the details but here’s what I recall – it was hard work!



So while I miss some of the simpler times, I am really thankful for the advances made in the appliance department. My husband has said this to me many times and it’s completely true – “You’d make a terrible pioneer.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gray's New Coat

The week that Give A Kid A Coat kicked off, we had a patch of what I would call cold weather. There were three days in a row when the highs didn’t get out of the 50’s. Gray’s winter coat from last year was too small, so I had to breakdown and get him one that actually fit.

We were fortunate in that he was able to wear his last winter coat for 2 seasons. So when we hit the stores, I was shocked at the prices -- $50 for a coat that he will probably only wear for a few months?! And I wasn’t shopping at a place known for outlandish prices.

But then I caught myself. You know how in just a moment a thousand thoughts can run through your mind? And after all those thoughts ran through my head, I scolded myself. I scolded myself because I came to the realization – I could afford to buy my child a coat, I was just annoyed because it was more money than I wanted to spend. I’m sure there are lots of folks out there that wish they had my predicament.

Needless to say, we got Gray a coat. He will be warm this winter. We donated his coat from last year, so another little boy will also be warm this winter. And my attitude has been adjusted.

Picture of Gray in his new coat

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dirty and Smelly

My child can always find dirt. So when I found a note in his backpack about “Mud Day” at school, I was less than pleased. The instructions on the note were: bring your child to school in old clothes, pack a towel and clean clothes in a grocery bag, and we’ll clean the kids up and send the dirty clothes home.

When we got home after “Mud Day”, I emptied his backpack and placed the bag of dirty clothes on top of the washer. Then I forgot about them. The next morning I went to start laundry. I opened the bag and was immediately hit with the odor. Eeewww. I am full of tidbits on how to care for your clothes, but I tend to forget to follow them. Reference the post from July 15 – ‘Wet gear that’s stored in plastic, in a gym bag, or in a heap on the floor can begin breeding bacteria within hours. Odor from bacteria can be stronger than the smell of perspiration.’

Let me say that A Cleaner World is not endorsing this product. But Barb Mitchell, SAHM of a dirty boy, thinks that Tide with Fabreeze is fantastic. It got the smell out of Gray’s “Mud Day” clothes. It also gets the smell out of my sweaty, smelly running clothes. And so on..... I’d like to shake the hand of the person that came up with that idea.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Poor Parents

I feel sorry for my parents. Every time they come to visit, I put them to work. Their visit in August was no exception. This time I had them help me wash windows.

When we moved into our house last spring, there was so much to do – clean the inside from top to bottom, yard work, painting and decorating. I put the windows on the back burner. Apparently the folks that owned the house before us also put the windows on the back burner. I’ve never seen so much dirt!

My mom was offering lots of advice on how my dad and I should have been cleaning the windows. It seems that we should have followed her directions a bit better. Her windows were immaculate. Ours had a few streaks. It appears that there is a right way to do windows. I went looking for an official guide....and this one looks like it would meet my mom’s approval.

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/how-to-clean-windows.htm

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Family Expert

Isn’t it flattering to be considered an expert? I’m the family expert in running, cooking, accounting and now stain removal. And it’s even extended past immediate family to friends of in-laws. I’m flattered!

My sister-in-law called me not too long ago with a question that her friends asked her to ask me. As she described the stains, it sounded very similar to an issue I was having last summer – the dreaded mystery stain. They were having issues with spots that made the fabric appear a bit darker than the actual color. I explained that it sounded like an oil based stain and could come from accidentally dripping dressing while eating or having oil pop on you while cooking. I told her that the stain could be removed but not with just regular washing and regular detergent – it needed to be treated to be broken down. Oil in fabric is a rather tricky stain to remove. I suggested she forward this chart to her friends:

http://images.marthastewart.com/images/content/web/pdfs/pdf3/stain_removal_basics.pdf

but with a qualifier. If it is an expensive item, I suggested she tell them to take it to their local cleaner. I also told her that I solved my problem mostly – I now cook with an apron.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Mom’s Drapes

My mom has taken to calling me with dry cleaning questions. It’s a nice change given that I’m usually calling her with questions. Most recently she called me to find out roughly how much it should cost to have her living room drapes cleaned. I wasn’t too much help as the place she was taking them charged by the pleat, not pound.

When she brought them home from the cleaners and hung them, she noticed that they didn’t set the pleats. She was going to call them but my dad told her to just let it go. So she called me again. I was first of all surprised that they pressed them flat, especially given that they charged by the pleat. But I told her to take them back and ask them to redo them properly. After all, she paid $85 for a service that she wasn’t happy with. So she took them back, and they redid them for her at no additional charge.

So I’d like to say the same thing to you guys. If you get your items home and aren’t satisfied with the outcome, please take it back. Not only will we redo it for you, we’ll also refund the original cost of the cleaning. We really mean what we say. “We do it right the first time, or it’s free.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

That Stinks

When I moved to the country, I imagined some of the critters I’d have to share my yard with – deer, turkeys, turtles, raccoons, snakes. So we’ve been in our house for a little over a year now, and until our neighbor said they had one living in their yard, they never crossed my mind -- skunks. After that conversation, I saw one while running two days later. Then a few days after that, we had two in our yard.

My son and I happened to be out of town the day of the skunk incident. And thank goodness for that because one of them sprayed five feet from our house. It was on a Thursday night, and Gray and I got home on Saturday afternoon. I had no idea until my husband told me the story – a very funny one I have to admit. But he also confessed that the smell seeped into the house. (That explained the bottle of Fabreze in the laundry room.)

After he confessed, my mind ran through lots of scenarios. Like – what if the smell had permeated my clothes? My guess is that this is something most of you won’t ever have to deal with. But I had to find the answer to my question, especially now. Some web sites said just throw the clothes away. One suggested burying the sprayed clothes for three days before trying to wash. Below is some information from about.com and ehow.com. It seemed to be the most logical.

•Immediately soak washable items in a mixture of 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup vinegar, and the normal amount of laundry detergent for at least 30 minutes (be sure to test the mixture on each item on a small area before using).
•Careful not to use too warm of water as it can infuse the odor into the fibers.
•Wash as normal using a heavy duty detergent.
•Don’t bleach.
•Don’t use the dryer. Instead line dry your items as the heat from the dryer will also infuse the odor into the fibers.
•For non-washable items, air thoroughly then bring them to us.

So I’m curious. Has anyone had to deal with this?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Runs in the Family

Apparently I have passed my obsession with being clean and crisp on to my 4 year old son. Not too long ago my sister and niece were visiting for the day. We were all having lunch when a piece of tomato from my son’s BLT fell out and slid down his shirt. Panic instantly hit. “Oh no, it’s going to stain,” he said. “Can you get the Oxy Clean?”

The look on my sister’s face was priceless. “How many 4 year olds do you know that know about Oxy Clean,” she asked. I guess it’s true – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I'm so proud.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Marriage Saver

Not only do we save weddings, A Cleaner World has actually saved some marriages!

I recently talked to Cathy Poole, Manager of A Cleaner World in Mount Airy. Cathy has been with A Cleaner World longer than I. She started out as a CSR, demonstrated her abilities, and was promoted to store manager about the time I was hired. Not only does Cathy know her stuff, she also caught Mike Feudale’s enthusiasm. I don’t know of anyone that loves A Cleaner World and their customers more than she does.

Before transferring to Mount Airy, Cathy managed the A Cleaner World located on Robinhood Road in Winston-Salem. Upon starting at that store, Cathy quickly developed the habit of sticking around a few minutes after the 6:00 p.m. closing time. One evening a female customer drove up after closing, and Cathy went out to wait on her. The customer seemed a bit frantic and asked could she pick up her cleaning even though it was after hours. After hanging the dress shirts in the back seat, the customer explained that her husband would be quite irritated with her if she failed to get his shirts today. “You saved my marriage,” she jokingly told Cathy. My guess is that word got out because Cathy had a handful of female customers that regularly picked up a few minutes after 6:00 p.m.

As Cathy and I talked, we laughed together about the ‘saving the marriage’ thing. But the truth is, Cathy is a working mom and wife just like these ladies. She knows what all they juggle, and she’s happy that her few extra minutes made for a happy home that night.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

No Company Name?

Have you ever looked at a tag on one of your garments and noticed ‘RN’ followed by some numbers? RN stands for Registered Identification Number. A RN is issued by the Federal Trade Commission to United States businesses that manufacture, import, distribute, or sell products covered by the Textile, Wool, and Fur Acts.

Why do I tell you this? Because businesses can put the number on the label instead of the company name. So what if you have an issue with a piece of clothing that has no company name just the RN? Well there is a handy little search feature on the FTC’s website that can help you find the company.

https://rn.ftc.gov/pls/TextileRN/wrnquery$.startup

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's All About The People

I know you’re not supposed to have favorites, but don’t we all do it? I recently talked to Terri Harris to find out what’s kept her at A Cleaner World for 11 years. She had several reasons but one was a LONG list of favorite customers. So I asked her to tell me about a few. She quickly started talking. Unfortunately I had to stop her after three for fear of writing a book instead of a blog. Here are three but I’m guessing that there are many more.

•For 14 years Kim Harris and her husband tried to have a baby. Terri never knew this until the day Kim stopped by to conduct business and enthusiastically shared some news. Kim and her husband, a pastor, had been contacted about adopting a newborn baby. This information really made an impression on Terri. Kim keeps the folks at our Peter’s Creek store up to date on their family and sends pictures, which Terri keeps on her refrigerator at home. Plus, Terri says Kim makes amazing chocolate chip muffins.
•When the A Cleaner World on Peter’s Creek Parkway opened, Terri waited on Johnsie several times. Each time, she kept thinking she knew her from somewhere. It turns out that Johnsie was actually Terri’s school bus driver! Once they figured that out, a special friendship developed. Everyone at the store loves Johnsie, especially her ability to laugh at herself. Not too long ago she contacted the store about a missing sweater. Everyone searched high and low but had no luck. Several days later Johnsie called to say she had found it. Johnsie’s husband had planned a surprise weekend getaway and packed the sweater for her!
•For 8 years Jean Batten frequented the store on Peter’s Creek Parkway. One day she stopped and shared with everyone, with tears in her eyes, that she was moving to Florida. Not only did the employees there take great care with her clothes, but they had also become like family to her. She said she’d never find another group like them. They all still stay in touch.

In a world that’s high tech social media disengaged, it’s nice to be a part of a team that has face to face contact with people and can truly build relationships. After all, business and life are all about people.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thanks

Each year the High Point Enterprise puts out their ‘Best of’ issue. This year, folks could vote from June 12 – June 27, and the business in each category with the most votes wins. Thanks Triad for voting A Cleaner World ‘Best Drycleaner’ once again! Check out this year’s issue. It has some great stuff in it.

http://issuu.com/hpenterprise/docs/hpt07282011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Happily Ever After

After my husband proposed to me, the very first thing I began to look for was my dress. Apparently that’s pretty common. According to an article on njwedding.com, 70% of brides say selecting the wedding gown of their dreams is the most important element of the wedding. So can you imagine going to bed on a Saturday night -- the night before your big day -- knowing your wedding gown is locked inside a dry cleaner that won’t reopen until Monday? That recently happened to an A Cleaner World Boone, North Carolina customer.

The bride dropped off her gown several days before the wedding to have it freshened up. When she went back to pick up her dress after 5:00 on Saturday, the day before her wedding, the store was already closed. She thought the store was open until 6:00 on Saturdays. I am sure that panic immediately set in.

The bride-to-be and her mom began making phone calls. To make a long story short, Mike Feudale, the store’s District Manager, was out with friends that night and learned about the situation after 11:00 p.m. He immediately called the bride’s mom. They came up with a plan, and Mike got up early Sunday morning and drove from his home in Winston-Salem to the A Cleaner World in Boone. He was able to help get the dress to the right place in plenty of time. So the wedding went off without a hitch. The bride was thrilled because she got to get married in the gown of her dreams. And then they lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Raving Fan

It’s never good to put words in other people’s mouths, but I am going to make an assumption. Last week I raved about Whole Foods, and I told you I would share a couple of instances where A Cleaner World has created some raving fans.

I’m going to guess that Tom Holland with Hayworth Miller would fall into that category. When we say that we clean American Flags for free – we really do and it’s every day. Every year the A Cleaner World on Peter’s Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem cleans and presses about 200 American Flags for Mr. Holland, Mr. Miller and a local Veteran’s organization.

Terri Harris, an 11 year employee of A Cleaner World, says she’s glad to do it. First, because she feels it’s nice to give back to the folks that have served in our military. Second, both Mr. Holland and Mr. Miller are such a nice men. Mr. Miller shows his appreciation by purchasing the employees at that location lunch or a gift card – something he doesn’t have to do. So that’s where I believe my assumption is correct. Who pays for something (in this case with lunch or a gift) when they don’t have to?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Above and Beyond

We’ve grown so accustomed to bad customer service that we are surprised when a company goes above and beyond. Once every 4 – 6 weeks I shop at the Whole Foods in Franklin, Tennessee. I like to go there because 1. They carry a few specialty items that I like and can’t find anywhere else and 2. It is always such a pleasant shopping experience. Besides it being in general such a pleasant experience, I’ve had two exceptional experiences at Whole Foods that I’d like to share.

Several months ago I was there one Friday night with my family after dinner. I was looking for a specific kind of chocolate. An employee saw me searching and asked if they could help (something they do quite often). When I explained what I was looking for, she indicated that they didn’t carry it but had something similar. She told me a little about the manufacturer, pulled one off the shelf, marked on the packaging no charge, and handed it to me saying she’d like for me to give it a try and see if it could be a suitable substitute. I was floored as was my husband. When we walked out of the store with our purchases he said to me, “They just spoke your love language. They’ve got you for life.”

A few weeks ago I was there around lunch time with my 4 year old son. We got the things we needed and of course wondered around the store a bit before checking out. When we got to the car, I couldn’t find my keys. We went back in the store to retrace our steps. As I was searching an employee saw my concern and asked if they could help (notice a pattern here?). When I explained our dilemma, she immediately got on their communication system and alerted everyone. Within 5 minutes another employee walked over to us and handed me my keys. What a fast response!

I posted a tweet about my experience on my personal Twitter account and got all kinds of responses. The general consensus (besides the consensus about Whole Foods being a great place to be stranded) was that this is simply how they operate.
Over the next few weeks I’d like to share a couple of stories when A Cleaner World earned someone for life. Whole Foods isn’t the only company that tries to go above and beyond.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Laundry Guide for College Students

It is the end of July and many kids are getting ready to head off to college. Is your son or daughter ready to do their own laundry? If not, here’s something you can print off and give to them in hopes that their whites won’t become pinks.

1.Before starting, check the labels. Separate out items that need to be hand washed or dry cleaned. Don’t forget to check pockets.

2.Sort clothing by color – whites, dark colors, reds, light colors, etc. -- and also by fabric type.

3.Pre-treat any spots and start washing. Read the directions on the detergent container to determine how much soap to use. Choose the appropriate water temperature and load size. Wash whites on warm/cold in a normal cycle. Wash dark colors on cold/cold as dark colors tend to bleed in warm water. Add the detergent to the washer before loading in clothes.

4.Place items loosely in the washing machine. Turn jeans, corduroy, knit items inside out to protect the fabric. Never overload the washing machine as clothes won’t come clean if there isn’t enough room to agitate.

5.Once the wash cycle is complete check to see if spots have been removed. If not, place that garment to the side to re-treat and re-wash. Place the remaining garments in the dryer or hang them up to dry. Don’t forget to clean the lint trap before drying.

6.Promptly remove clothes from the dryer and either fold or hang to prevent wrinkling.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

All Stacked Up

I’ve already confessed that my family produces a lot of laundry. I really don’t mind the washing and folding part. In fact with my new high efficiency washer and dryer doing laundry is actually kind of cool.

The thing I dislike the most about doing laundry is putting all the clean clothes away. Our house in North Carolina had the laundry room and all the bedrooms upstairs. At the time we purchased the house, I thought it was a disadvantage. That was until I started doing laundry and found it only took a few steps to put everything away. In our new house, the laundry room is downstairs as is our bedroom. Our son’s room is upstairs. Plus our closet is so small that I keep my dress clothes in the guest room closet. I seem to do a lot of walking around to different areas of the house to put stuff away. I’m not sure if it is because this house is larger and things are so spread out or if it is the fact that now I let folded and ironed clothes stack up in the laundry room until there is no more room to work.

Now that I’ve made yet another confession, tell me – what is the one thing about laundry that you dislike the most?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Share the Good Stuff

Does it seem like to you too that we hear lots of complaints and rarely the good stuff? Imagine my surprise when I read this review on yelp.com about one of our Roanoke stores several months ago:

12/30/2010
Outstanding service! I forgot my ticket for my husband's tux and they were unable to locate it yesterday. No problem, I found my ticket and plan to pick it up today. In the meantime, they called, said they had the tux, and since they were going to be closed for the New Year's holiday, wanted to make sure I knew it was ready and could pick it up anytime. Wow! I am impressed. What great customer service.

And then this one recently on one of our Chapel Hill locations:

5/10/2011
I am a huge critic of dry cleaners (I've tried almost all of them in CH) and A Cleaner World meets my expectations!

I gave them a solid, beautiful, green silk dress to dry clean that had been doused in olive oil at an Italian restaurant. They got the entire spot out. I don't care about their prices, because if it means my clothes remain wearable, I'll pay any (reasonable) price.

Thank you Marian and Elizabeth for sharing your positive experiences with everyone. It’s nice to know that we’re doing a good job for you. But on the same token, if you ever have a problem please e-mail me at acwwildwed@gmail.com. We’ll work through it with you so that you too can share some good stuff.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Pedicures Never Last

I faithfully get a professional pedicure every four weeks. I’ve found that by doing so I no longer lose toe nails from all the running. I tell my husband it is preventative medicine, but he doesn’t really buy it. It is partially true but I’m also funny about my toes looking nice year round. There’s one minor problem - with all the running the polish only looks good for about two weeks. Unfortunately I have to repaint them at least once between pedicures.

Recently I was painting them and spilled some polish on a towel. Did you know you can actually get nail polish out of some fabrics? Here’s what I found:

Check the care label

If the garment is made of acetate, triacetate, modacrylic, silk, rayon, or just plain dry clean only – take it to a professional

If the fabric is washable, use an acetone based nail polish remover. Place a clean white towel under the stain, dip the edge of another clean white towel in the solution, and working from the outside of the stain blot as the stain shifts from your garment to the towel. Then launder according to the labels directions.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How To Sew A Button

About a year ago I shared the infamous sewing machine story. In that blog I also told you that I absolutely have no desire to learn how to sew. I do have a sewing kit with a handful of basic items – one needle, one thimble, a pin cushion, several spools of thread, and so on. I have it because occasionally I HAVE to sew on a button. Ugh.

Not too long ago my husband brought me a dress shirt that had several cracked buttons on it. There weren’t enough spare buttons to replace the cracked ones. So in order to make the shirt wearable again, I was going to have to replace every single button. I donated the shirt to The Salvation Army. I may be willing to sew on an occasional button but not twelve!

Martha Stewart says sewing a button is ‘incredibly easy.’ It never seems easy to me – but perhaps that’s because I just plain dread it so much. Here are her tips:

http://www.marthastewart.com/268866/sew-a-button

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hero For A Day

When I hear the word hero I think of the men and women who serve in our military or of an everyday person who does something courageous to help a person in need or even Superman. But to think of a dry cleaner as a hero?

To many folks Steve Plantone, Manager of A Cleaner World in Hickory, is absolutely that. It’s amazing how even the smallest gestures can seem heroic to the person on the receiving end. Over the years, it has been common for Steve to get phone calls at home well after closing time from customers that needed their clothes. He’d happily meet them at the store. Then there are the elderly customers that either walk or ride the bus to do business specifically at Steve’s store, and he’ll drive them home with their cleaning. Recently a woman who lives in an apartment a few miles away called at closing time very upset because her daughter forgot to pick up her pants that she needed the next morning. Steve delivered them to her on his way home.

But my favorite story happened several years ago when a customer dropped off a brand new $400 silk dress that she had spilled nail polish on. Steve, along with his enthusiastic District Manager Mike Feudale, spent over an hour working on the dress by hand. They dry cleaned it and the dress came out looking like NEW! When the customer returned and saw the dress, she began to cry. She admitted that she fully expected a total loss. That day Steve was her hero. And to that I would say hero’s come in many forms.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Manager Profile

I've often wondered what makes someone want to run a dry cleaning plant. After all, it's a hot, dirty job with long hours and sometimes uncooperative employees. I decided to ask Glenn Batts, the manager of our A Cleaner World located on Leesville Road in Raleigh, for several reasons. First, I knew he had been in the industry for a number of years -- almost 30. Second, I remember his time card averaged 65 hours a week almost consistently. Third, I hadn't talked to him in a while and just wanted to say hello.

When I asked him how he got started, I really wasn't surprised by the answer. He went to work for a dry cleaner in Rocky Mount after college simply because he needed a job. Over time he was promoted and held various positions before coming to A Cleaner World 9 years ago. He's stayed in this industry because as he puts it "it has gotten into my blood and become second nature to me." He's got to like it otherwise the 76 hours he's going to put in this week would really stink.

Knowing what a character Glenn is, I think I expected a few funny stories and some goofy sarcasm. Instead I saw a rather serious and appreciative side of him. Here's what I learned: he genuinely likes his employees and has spent a lot of time building a team that does their work efficiently and often without him having to ask; he loves A Cleaner World and the fact that it is a family owned business that really bends over backwards for its employees; and he simply can't think of anything else he'd rather be doing or any place he'd rather be. Now that's the kind of person I like doing business with.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Thread Count

There are certain things for the home that I don't really like purchasing. Sheets would be included in that group so I usually wait for my mom to buy them for me. I can always tell the difference between the one's she buys and the one's I buy. I am concerned with the price so I generally purchase the cheapest thing I can find. She's willing to pay a little more to get a higher thread count.

In general the higher the thread count, the better quality sheet you get. But did you know that some manufacturers are stretching the truth a bit when it comes to thread count? Good Housekeeping did an investigation and found that some manufacturers are doubling the count when making sheets with 2-ply threads. A 2-ply thread is 2 threads wrapped together to make a single thread. But that doesn't mean that manufacturers that use 2-ply thread can suddenly call 400 count sheets 800 count.

This whole thing gets really long and complicated, but I found this:

http://www.linenplace.com/product_guide/truth_about_thread_count.html

This site gives lots of helpful information on selecting quality sheets. In fact, they believe that thread count isn't the most important factor in selecting your sheets!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why Do Whites Gray?

You already know I have an affinity for khaki pants, but have I ever mentioned that I'm also a collector of white t-shirts? I probably have 15 short sleeve and sleeveless hanging in the closet right now, and I am always buying more. That's because I like my white t-shirts to look crisp and fresh.

Have you ever noticed how whites tend to gray over time? Here's why - most white t-shirts have some amount of cotton in them. Cotton isn't naturally white but more like a tan to grayish color. With repeated washings, the optical brightness (sort of a white dye kind of thing) breaks down, and all dyed fabrics tend to fade to their natural state over time. Bleaches as well as excessive wash or drying temperatures and cycle lengths exacerbate the white cotton discoloration. Some personal products, such as deoderant, anti-perspirant, and even topical medicines can cause local or general discolorations.

What can you do? Well according to my favorite enthusiastic District Manager Mike Feudale - only a few things. First he suggests not using chlorine bleach, excessive temperatures, and lengthly cycles. He likes using color safe bleaches, well dissolved and distributed, in a hot or warm load that is paused during the wash cycle for several hours. Finally he prefers drying outside on a clothes line. (On a side note, I like doing that because I love the way clothes smell when they dry outside!)

Of course since I am better at pointing out laundry problems then solving them, I just suggest calling your local A Cleaner World if you have a stubborn white issue. Any of our folks can help you out.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No New Carpet Needed

Thank goodness A Cleaner World got into the carpet cleaning business shortly before we bought our first house. The honest truth is back then I had no idea what to look for in a carpet cleaner. I only really knew two things. First, I knew the type of business A Cleaner World strives to run. Second, Greg (the managing partner for A Cleaner World Carpet Cleaning) had been a dry cleaning manager for years so I knew what a stickler he was for top-notch service and quality.

Our house had hardwoods on the main floor and carpeting on the second floor. The carpeting was in decent shape, but of course I wanted to replace it prior to moving in. My husband convinced me that we should at least have it cleaned first. Cleaning it made all the difference in the world; Greg removed spots that my husband and I didn't think would come out. The carpet looked almost new. In fact, we had the carpet cleaned every year for 5 years, and when we sold the house, that same carpeting was still upstairs.

If you need your carpet cleaned and have no idea how to select a company, here's some information on how to select a reputable company:

http://www.acleanerworldcarpetcleaning.com/quality/how-to-select.asp

The most important thing though is to choose a company that is IICRC certified, like A Cleaner World Carpet Cleaning. IICRC is a non-profit organization that helps people like us ensure we're using qualified and trusted professionals. In order for a business to be IICRC certified, they must adhere to a strict set of guidelines. Now that I no longer have access to A Cleaner World Carpet Cleaning, I'll be using this nifty little tool to help me find a carpet cleaner in Tennessee that's IICRC certified.

http://www.certifiedcleaners.org/locator.shtml

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Obvious Reminder

I have an uncle that is pretty close to my age, and we talk. So when he learned that A Cleaner World was going to venture into Social Media and that I would be handling it, he was curious. Curious in particular, I think, because really what would a dry cleaner have to talk about? I shared with him some blog topics and gave him a few examples of information I would share on Facebook and Twitter. Here's one that made him raise his eyebrow: "Chlorine; pool water; cleaners with bleach, ammonia, or peroxide; and even some toothpaste have bleach that can remove color from your clothing." His answer was something like this, "Well isn't that information sort of obvious?"

Recently I was cleaning the master bathroom. I was having trouble with the lid to the toilet cleaner and some ended up spilling on the floor. I wiped it up (but apparently not all of it) and continued cleaning, sometimes crawling on the floor to get the corners and such. About twenty minutes later I noticed that the bottom of my black yoga pants were covered with splotches of orange. After being puzzled for a moment, I realized what happened.

So I think I'd like to answer my uncle's question now. Sometimes we all need to be reminded of even obvious things.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Zippers

When I was in high school I had that perfect pair of jeans. I vividly remember the day I got them -- at Maurice's Eastland Mall location in Evansville, Indiana while shopping with my mom. I wore them often until that dreaded day when the zipper broke. I also remember that day vividly. I was devastated.

When you think about it, isn't the zipper an incredibly clever invention? Just from a utilitarian perspective, the zipper is a very useful tool especially when you've been in the car several hours and have had too much diet coke. Then look at the zipper from an ascetics perspective, it certainly improved the look of pants. Let's face it, pants went through some pretty unflattering stages.

Where am I going with all of this? No where really other than to share some interesting information and a cute story.

Inventor -- Gideon Sundback from Sweden in 1913

Special Tip -- If you have a stuck zipper that is a little rough getting up or down, rub a bar of soap over the zipper. It will make it work easier.

Cute Joke -- My mother taught for 11 years at a day-care center. One winter afternoon she was trying to show a young boy how to zip up his coat. "The secret," Mom said, "is to get this piece of the zipper to fit in the other side before you try to zip it up." After struggling for several minutes, the boy sighed and said, "Why does it have to be a secret?"

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Storing Clothes

So I know I talked about some of these last Spring, but it is something we all do every year. It's worth repeating especially so that next Fall you don't find that one favorite piece ruined.

1. Clean everything before storing it. Even if it looks clean - body oils, perspiration, and invisible stains are there and will attract moths and other critters.
2. Don't hang knits. They will stretch and distort, leaving them out of shape for next season.
3. Never use our poly bags for storing your clothes. They are strictly designed for short-term protection. Long-term use will suffocate your clothes and possibly cause staining or mildew issues.
4. Store your clothes in a cool, dry, clean place. Avoid storing clothes in a cold basement or hot attic. Extreme temperatures could damage your garments.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What Is Your Style?

Since I started working from home, I find my wardrobe shifting away from dress clothes and getting increasingly more casual. When I went to an office daily, I considered myself to be a "Business Casual Dresser", even on weekends. Now I don't know where I fall. So I decided to find out. Here's who I now am:

Casual Feminine

'You aren't right with the styles but you aren't behind them either. You just wear nice, normal, girly clothes that may go out of style in 10 years as opposed to the trendy stuff that only lasts about a year. You don't spend a fortune for your clothing but you own some nice things that will stand the test of time.'

That sounds about right. Here's the link to this fun quiz.

http://quizfarm.com/quizzes/Fashion/utkallie/what-clothing-style-matches-your-personality/

Let me know how you score.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another Way To Green

I was recently in Panama City Beach, Florida. One morning while running, I noticed a shopping center watering their landscaping. My mind immediately went to water waste, but it was quickly stopped when I saw a sign posted in the area stating "This beautiful area is being cared for by grey water".

I was somewhat familiar with the concept because of my time at A Cleaner World and my very basic knowledge of commercial grade washing machines. I decided to learn more about 'grey water', and here it is in a nutshell.

Definition of Grey water - Any wash water that has been used in the home, except water from toilets. Dish, shower, sink, and laundry water comprise 50 - 80% of residential 'waste' water. This may be reused for other purposes, especially landscape irrigation.

We're all looking for ways to conserve.....this is another terrific idea!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Our Latest Stain Removal Issue

If it weren't for my son, I think I'd run out of laundry issues to discuss. Gray has just started playing baseball (well technically t-ball). He loves playing ball but the first time he got his uniform dirty, he totally freaked out. It has taken a lot of coaching from several sources to convince him that he's supposed to get dirty.

Always in search of ways to remove stains, I ran onto some more helpful tips from Heloise. Here's what she recommends. By the way -- these suggestions are for washable material only.

Removing Clay From A Baseball Uniform

'This ball-field mark is tough, but try these. Brush off dry clay. Measure out powdered detergent (containing no bleach) for a standard laundry load, then remove a little and combine with just enough household ammonia to make a paste. Apply using a cotton cloth. Let set about 10 minutes; launder in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Repeat if needed.'

Removing Grass Stains

'Treat area directly with liquid laundry detergent containing enzymes or with prewash spray (follow directions on container). Then wash according to care label.'

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Vanity Sizing

It happened again recently. I went to a well known clothing store in search of a new pair of jeans. I tried on 'my size', and they were (as I frequently experience) too big in the waist and tight in the butt and thighs. The sales person suggested a different style in a larger size. I told him no thank you. I will not purchase a size larger than what I wear. This led me to two questions. First, why do men not care what size they wear? Second, why is it that I can wear a smaller size in one brand but require a larger in others?

I figured I'd ask my husband the first question. So I Googled to find answers to the second question. I stumbled upon an article entitled "Women's Issues of Clothing Size" written by Kellie Hayden in 2008 that talks about 'vanity sizing.' It turns out that clothing manufacturers have been in my head. Kellie says "Manufacturers have figured out the fact that sizing is very important to women. This is especially important when she is standing in front of the 360 degree mirror and trying to figure out if the pants 'make her butt look too big.' Even if the clothes do make her backside look a little larger, the woman may indeed buy the pants if they happen to be a size smaller than the size she usually wears."

It's true. I have a pair of jeans in the back of my closet because they are 8's, but I don't wear them because they make my butt look big. Crazy huh? How many pairs do you have in your closet?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Do Lots Of Laundry

I was curious about how many loads of laundry the average family of 4 does per week so I Googled it. It seems 5-6 loads plus bedding is the average. I probably do 10 per week plus bedding for a family of 3. During my search, I found all kinds of interesting discussions on the topic, mostly ways to reduce the amount of laundry you do. Many of the suggestions -- wear pajamas more than one night, hang bath towels up and use a second time, wear say a pair of jeans twice -- I already do. Then I started thinking about our laundry and realized I don't think I can reduce it any more. I run daily. My husband runs 4 days a week. That's 11 sets of sweaty workout clothes. My husband is a handy, outdoorsman so he regularly produces grimy clothes. I cook - a lot. Much of what I wear has to be laundered quickly so that stains do not set. I haven't even gotten to my active, messy 4 year old son. Here's my solution -- an energy efficient washer and dryer. I got them about a month ago in hopes of 1. Reducing my water and electricity costs 2. Reducing the impact I make on our planet 3. Making the entire laundry process less painful. I'll report back. In the meantime, I welcome all suggestions and comments.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Clean Out Your Closet

Because I have way too many clothes twice a year, spring and fall, I go through my closets and shift. Typically I just move my out of season clothes into the guest room closet, and I move my in season stuff into our bedroom closet. But before I hang in the closet or place in the dresser my in season clothes, I cull.

My method isn't quite as organized as this, but it's close. Here's a method the National Cleaners Association suggests:

Start with 5 good sized boxes and label them - keep, donate, dump, fix, maybe.

Keep - Start with jackets, suits, and separates. Inspect them carefully for wear and tear. Keep your essentials as long as they are in good condition, still fit, and don't look dated.

Donate - If you're the same size and haven't worn something in a year or more, plan to give it away -- unless it's evening wear. Those items have a longer shelf life.

Dump - Throw out clothes that aren't fit to donate. Keep a few things for dirty jobs like gardening and painting.

Fix - Inspect everything carefully. Put anything that needs a hem, button, alteration, or cleaning in this box. Go through it twice to make sure you want to make the investment in it.

Maybe - This box is for the item you got on sale but never wore because you don't have anything to go with it or it's just a touch too tight. Seal this box and put it somewhere away from your closet. Anything you don't miss after 4 months should be given away.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Donate Goods, Do Good

In 1987, A Cleaner World formed a partnership with The Salvation Army via Give A Kid A Coat. Over the years, we've watched The Salvation Army do some remarkable things through their programs both locally and nationally. Those remarkable programs cost money to implement.


Because of our longstanding relationship with The Salvation Army, we were aware of another way we could help them help folks in need. So during the summer of 2009, we set up a program to help The Salvation Army restock their local Family Stores. The program "Donate Goods, Do Good" allows folks to donate clothing and other household items at any Triad A Cleaner World. A Cleaner World then sends the donations to The Salvation Army Family Stores to resell, and the profits made from those sales directly fund Salvation Army programs.


A few years ago, I had the privilege of attending a luncheon hosted by The Salvation Army. First hand I heard an amazing success story from a woman who had hit rock bottom and was working her way back. I attributed her success to two things. First just her plain desire and determination to return to a better place. Second an organization that helped provide her with the tools she needed to start fresh. What an incredible story she shared.


Spring is around the corner. A change in season always causes me to go through my stuff and figure out what I really don't need. Next week's blog will be tips on cleaning out your closet. Why not take this opportunity to go through and get rid of some unwanted stuff and donate it to a place that will turn it into something good.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

All Sticky

Recently, I've had a unique laundry problem. My 4 year old has really taken to stickers. He usually just sticks them on paper but when he finds a sticker he really likes, he wants to put it on his shirt and wear it all day. Here's my problem -- I've forgotten to remove a few stickers, so they end up going through the washer and dryer. What's left behind is a caked on sticker residue.

I've let these shirts sit on the counter in the laundry room for weeks. Recently I found an article by Ask Heloise in the January 2011 Good Housekeeping magazine. Here's what she suggests:

'Put the adhesive area face down on a clean terry towel and pour a little acetone-based nail polish remover on the spot (it should be safe since the shirt is washable). Then rub with another clean towel to push the remover through the material. Turn the shirt over to check that the adhesive is coming off; it may take several attempts.'

It worked. Who knew? Does anyone have another suggestion that takes care of the sticky?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spandex - Sometimes A Problem

One thing I failed to mention on my mildew shirt from a few weeks ago was that it was mostly cotton with a touch of spandex. I also failed to mention that before sending it to A Cleaner World so when Mike received it, I could hear him groaning all the way from North Carolina.


The National Center for Garment Analysis reports that spandex fibers made their top ten list for problems associated with garment care for multiple years. There are two areas where consumers are experiencing problems.


1. In the manufacturing process, spandex is stretched. When the item is cleaned, that stretching/tension is relaxed and therefore the garment shrinks.
2. It is more susceptible to little pulls, pills and protruding fibers just in the course of normal wear or cleaning.


Here's hopefully some helpful advice.

1. Try to avoid purchasing garments with high spandex content.
2. If a garment contains elastane, spandex, lycra, etc. be careful to avoid abrasion in normal wear. For example, don't wear belts, use shoulder straps, wear unlined outer garments. Expect abrasion from wearing seat belts.
3. When buying keep in mind that there may be some shrinkage after the initial cleaning.
4. Clean or launder those items frequently as your body oils and perspiration can cause fiber discoloration and/or degeneration.


As always, please let us know if you have any questions or if you need any help.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

History of A Cleaner World

A Cleaner World was founded in 1969 and was owned by a group of local investors who believed in a concept of creating a regional dry cleaning company very similar to the One Hour Martinizing franchises that had been successful in the 1960's. But the company almost didn't make it. In the mid 1970's polyester wash and wear was introduced and the impact was substantial. A Cleaner World went through a four year period where a number of stores were closed and only one new one was opened.

In 1981 Butch Bearden and Ray Edwards purchased A Cleaner World from the 27 stockholders. At that time there were 23 locations. Mr. Edwards took steps to improve employee morale and to develop a customer focused business plan. Once that plan was in place, A Cleaner World began to again add locations in the Triad area of North Carolina. In 1982 Chris Edwards joined the company and served in various capacities before moving to the corporate office in High Point.

In 1995 A Cleaner World embarked on an aggressive expansion project by expanding into the Triangle area of North Carolina. Today they have 9 locations in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area. Together Ray and Chris Edwards have worked to build A Cleaner World into the place it is today - a caring, customer focused, family owned, civic minded business. While Ray semi-retired in 1996 and Chris became President and COO, they continue to work together to ensure A Cleaner World lives up to its promise.

Currently there are 39 A Cleaner World locations throughout North Carolina and Virginia. http://www.acleanerworld.com/about/locations.asp

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Mom Irons Sheets

My mom is crazy particular about their bed. I can't even begin to tell you all the specifics - tightly tucked corners, a certain fold on the pillow cases, and on and on. My parent's bed looks like - well it should belong in an expensive hotel. I never figured out how their bed looked just so until I discovered that my mom irons their sheets! How crazy is that?

I already feel like I have enough ironing to do. I faithfully change our sheets once a week so the thought of adding two sets of queen size sheets to the ironing pile every week is a bit overwhelming to me. Plus, I have a hard enough time just folding the fitted sheets. (On a side note, when searching the Internet to see if there are benefits to ironed sheets I learned that Oprah likes to have her sheets changed every other day. Lucky her.)

So just for curiosity sake - to iron or not iron? That's the question.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chocolate Is Always The Answer

I know I've mentioned that I'm a big foodie; I love to cook. But my real passion is baking, especially anything chocolate. My son has that same passion - well not so much the baking part but the eating part. With Valentine's Day next week, we decided that instead of giving his classmates and his teacher cards, we would make chocolate heart shaped suckers for everyone. Everything with a 4 year old is messy. Imagine my kitchen and our clothes after working with melted chocolate.

Before we moved to Tennessee, I took all of our dress clothes plus anything with stains to A Cleaner World. Since I no longer have that option, I'm learning the art of stain removal. I need to provide a disclaimer - I am no professional. I am merely a mom with a messy little boy. If it says dry clean only, don't risk it. Just take it to A Cleaner World, and let a professional handle it. If it is washable then hopefully this will help:

  • Let the chocolate dry
  • Once dry, use something with a blunt edge to gently scrape away the excess
  • Turn the garment inside out and place under running water to help remove additional particles
  • Apply a stain remover or some liquid detergent to the area, rub gently, then let soak in
  • Wash the garment according to the label's directions

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We Don't Gender Price

I've heard many statements similar to this one over the years. Maybe a month ago, Steve Doocy on Fox & Friends made a comment about men's shirts being cheaper to clean than women's shirts in a way that suggested gender pricing. Before I worked at A Cleaner World, I too had that same misconception. Let me set the record straight.

As a general rule, we price clothing in half or full garment increments -- when it comes to dry cleaning. It doesn't matter the size or gender. Dress shirts for men, women, and children undergo a different process - they are laundered and machine ironed while wet on automatic equipment that produces lots of shirts per hour. If we get a dress shirt that cannot be laundered (that has to be dry cleaned and/or hand ironed) then it will be priced at the half garment price for dry cleaning plus any up charges if it contains silk or linen. Common variables that would exclude a garment from regular dress shirt pricing are: silk, linen, rayon, spandex, ruffles, pleats, special buttons or trim, and leather.

Does that help?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Big Surprises About Dry Cleaning

When I first moved to Greensboro in 1993, I lived out by the airport so my first cleaning experience was at the A Cleaner World off Inman Road. I handed the CSR a pile of clothes, and she asked me, "Is it all dry cleaning? Do you have laundered shirts?" I had no idea what she was talking about.

Fast forward three years, and I was being hired by A Cleaner World to be their Controller/Office Manager. But before starting my position, Chris (Edwards, President) had me spend one month working in two different A Cleaner World locations. He believed it was important for me to really learn the business. He was right.

I learned so many fascinating things about dry cleaning, and here are my three favorite:

1. Dry cleaning isn't dry. A liquid solution called perchloroethylene or perc is used, and it is from the same family of cleaning agents used in household cleaners and swimming pools. A Cleaner World goes to great lengths to make sure it is handled properly. I could give you a long list of company guidelines but believe me when I tell you that I learned really quickly that A Cleaner World takes its environmental responsibility seriously.

2. Laundered dress shirts are pressed wet, and they dry during the pressing process. That's one of the reasons why they look so crisp and like new when you get them back from A Cleaner World as opposed to when you do them at home.

3. There's a machine that folds shirts. Well it's actually this apparatus that helps manually fold dress shirts so they look like you've just purchased them at the store. The shirts are wrapped around cardboard and placed in a plastic bag then stacked in a nice paper tote with a handle. I found myself loving it when a customer wanted their shirts folded.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We Check Pockets

You would think that I'd learn a lesson after doing something several times. Clearly I don't because I still forget to check the pockets of my husband's pants. I usually wash pants that have tissues in the pockets. Most recently I didn't check a pair of workout shorts, and I washed the ear buds to his i-pod.

After the ear bud incident and knowing our customer service representatives check the pockets on all garments when writing up orders, I began to wonder about some of the crazy things they have found. So I asked a couple of our district managers. Here are my top five favorite (printable):

#5 - Dried up worms in a child's pants pocket.
#4 - A small plush toy dog with a severed head.
#3 - A pile of cash - but the story is what I loved. The wife brought a jacket in to be cleaned. (The husband had been using the jacket pocket to save cash without his wife knowing.) The next morning the husband was sitting at the drive thru door when the manager got there at about 6:30 a.m. He told the manager and asked if we found it. He was white as a sheet. The manager had the money in a safe place and returned it to the husband. The man shook his hand 10 times after getting the money back, and he asked that we not tell his wife about the money. We're guessing he found a new hiding place.
#2 - A check for $40,000 - endorsed.
#1 - A bottle of Viagra. When it was returned to the customer (wife), she said "Oh gosh, I don't want to lose that. He doesn't even know he's taking it. I put it in with his other pills."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Cleaner World Saved My Shirt (and My Husband)

If you follow this blog, then you already know that several months ago my family and I relocated to Tennessee. We closed on our house in North Carolina at the end of March and weren't scheduled to close on our new house until the end of May. So we had to box up and temporarily store everything at two different locations. First of all shame on me for not following my own advice. But you know there is always a but -- but I did think all of my clothes were going to my parents completely finished climate controlled basement for roughly two months. I used boxes. Somehow two cardboard wardrobe boxes ended up in a barn in Tennessee -- in an area that happened to receive some heavy rains last spring.

I found out the day we moved into our new house that one box got wet and several garments were covered with mildew. I handled it really well until I saw that one special item. This shirt's value is completely sentimental -- it's merely a long sleeve white athletic hoodie with the Team in Training logo on the left chest. Now if anyone has run a marathon and raised money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor or memory of a loved one, then you know how emotional that experience is. The shirt represented that experience.

I tried everything to get it out and finally resigned myself to the fact that it was ruined, but I couldn't part with it so it went in the grunge clothes drawer. I recently pulled it out and decided to call Mike Smith, Vice President of Operations for A Cleaner World. After talking with Mike, I learned that mildew could be removed from certain types of fabrics.

Lucky for me I have a connection because I mailed him the shirt. He got the mildew out moving the shirt out of the grunge drawer and also moving my husband out of the dog house. Lucky for you folks in North Carolina and Virginia -- you have A Cleaner World right around the corner.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Velvet

When I think of velvet, I think two things - luxury and holidays. Velvet is a lavish, distinctive fabric that can be a bit problematic. Velvet was a very popular fabric in many designer lines this season, so we're guessing something velvet found its way into your closet. Here are a few things you might want to be aware of before you put your velvet items away for the season:


1. As with storing any garment, it is important that you store it clean. Most velvet fabrics cannot be cleaned at home. Before you wash your garment, carefully read the cleaning instructions. If it is marked 'dry clean only' don't attempt to clean it yourself.
2. When storing, always hang the garment on a quality padded hanger.
3. Never fold a velvet garment over a hanger bar. If you have no place to hang it, then roll it - don't fold. Do not store it for long periods using metal clips. Don't keep it crammed in a crowded closet. Any of these practices could result in matting, flattening, or distorting of the pile.
4. Do store it in a cool, dry location. Avoid storing your velvet items in your basement or attic, both of which contain high levels of damaging substances like moisture, dust, and mold.


Taking proper care of your velvet garments will ensure they'll be around for you to enjoy next season. Let us know if you have any questions.
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