It’s the end of an era for the Franklin Cleaners on Franklin Corner Road, which closed its doors July 31.
The owners of the dry cleaning business, In Lee and his wife, Choon Lee, have retired. The couple, who moved to the United States in 1989 from South Korea, purchased the business in October 1995.
“We moved to the United States to live the ‘American dream.’ I wanted to give a better life for my two sons – to give them a better education,” In Lee said.
The couple settled in a Philadelphia suburb, but fell in love with Lawrence Township. They moved to Lawrence because of the business, and raised their family in the township. Both sons graduated from Lawrence High School.
“We got into the trade because my brother had a dry cleaning business and it looked like a good living,” In Lee said. His wife, who learned to sew and knit in South Korea, did not know she would apply those skills in the United States.
But now the time has come to retire.
In Lee said they would love to hand over the business to a new owner, but the dry cleaning business has changed.
“When money is tight, people hold off on dry cleaning their clothes. Also, it is labor intensive work and less people are willing to get involved,” he said.
Asked what they liked about the business, In Lee and Choon Lee replied that they enjoyed providing a service that kept their customers “looking sharp.”
They will miss the smiles from the customers when they fix a zipper on a favorite jacket, hem a prom dress or remove a stain from a garment, In Lee said. It makes them feel happy when they can make someone’s day a little better.
In Lee said he and his wife appreciated the customers, and even with the language barrier – English is not their native language – “we made many friends.”
Paul Schindel would agree. The Lawrence Township resident is a long-time customer who has been bringing his clothing to the Franklin Cleaners for about 25 years.
“They have always been friendly and easy to deal with. They know their customers really well. By the time I get out of the car and walk in, they have my account called up and ready for pick-up,” Schindel said.
The Franklin Cleaners had convenient hours, good prices and they did good work, he said.
“I view them as the classic immigrant success story. I will miss them,” Schindel said.