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Support Local: Local dry cleaning store seeing big loss during COVID-19 outbreak

The Aggie owned and family-owned dry cleaner is open because it is considered an essential business, but it is not seeing the same number of customers from January.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Local businesses around the Brazos Valley are taking hits because of the coronavirus outbreak. A longtime dry cleaner and laundromat store in College Station is hurting, especially with many of the student population gone.

"Business was very brisk," said Ben Liles, the owner of Park Cleaners. "It started off with 2020 looking like it was a strong year."

The Aggie owned and family-owned dry cleaner is open because it is considered an essential business, but it is not seeing the same number of customers from January.

With the store located near a majority of student housing and Texas A&M University, Park Cleaners served a lot of students. COVID-19 closed campus and prompted many of those students to return to their home town, leaving the dry cleaning store high and dry.

"Now it is about 25 percent of what we were getting," Liles said.

The coronavirus outbreak is also causing many people to work from home, which might mean dressing casual for their 9 to 5. 

"There is no need to dress up or bring any clothes to the cleaners," Liles said.

Park Cleaners employs many people, some that have even been part of the business for more than 20 years. 

"The employees are suffering pretty bad because they're used to that 40 hour work week and now they're getting considerably less," Liles said.

The more than 70-year-old business in Aggieland has been a long supporter of those who gives back to their community. Park Cleaners helps provide services to local corps cadets, military and more.

"They're a big part of our business and most of the traditions of A&M came from the corps cadets, so you always when part of that," Liles said.

In today's current setback isn't stopping their need to give back to those around them. Park Cleaners are running a special and giving a 19 percent discount to healthcare workers that stop by. 

"(As) the coronavirus spreads in our community more, they're going to be stretched at the hospital and they'll be taxed for time," Liles said. "We thought we could help them out just a little bit and give them a bit of a reward for taking care of our citizens."

This is part of an ongoing series that highlights several businesses across the Brazos Valley during the coronavirus pandemic.  

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