AUBURN – Scott Johnson has always had the entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to run his own business, so about a year and a half ago, on Memorial Day weekend of 2012 to be exact, he not only bought the current location of the Auburn Towne Cleaners at 700 Southbridge Street, but also purchased two other dry cleaning stores located in Sutton and Uxbridge.
Even though Johnson, who spent 15 years in corporate America, had never been in the dry cleaning business, he decided to dive in head first and admitted that he has endured some tough times. Yes, despite the “growing pains” as he calls them, things continue to improve and business is good and he is happy that he chose this location for several reasons: it's a busy spot and the store had superior and earth-friendly equipment that came along with it.
“The Auburn store’s equipment here is only eighth years old and it's all earth-friendly and eco-friendly. For many years dry cleaners used certain chemicals and now Massachusetts and California have strict regulations against them and they are getting rid of these harmful chemicals,” said Johnson.
Johnson further explained that the dry cleaning machine that they use is what is called a hydrocarbon machine. It’s a cleaner and safer way to dry clean clothes, and that not only makes him feel good but should make the customers happy as well. After all, clean and safe is good.
Along with “clean” machines, Johnson also retained employees from all three of the stores, each of whom have between five and ten years' experience in dry cleaning, and that helped him with the “learning curve” he had to overcome to understand and operate a new area of business.
One of those employees is his mother, Connie Johnson, who works at the counter and does alterations. She has been sewing her entire life and has made wedding gowns for two of her daughters. “She is one of the reasons I wanted to get into this business because I knew that she likes doing alterations and would want to be involved,” said Johnson.
Some of the many other important services that the Auburn Towne Cleaners offers includes alterations, which entail zipper repairs and hems. They also clean leather coats, leather handbags, and clean and preserve wedding gowns.
“Some things we will send out to another company, but basically I wanted to have a one-stop shop. You can come in with your shirts, your suits, leather coats, even your shoes,” said Johnson.
The store has clients from many of the surroundings towns, including Charlton, Oxford, Dudley, and, of course, Auburn. “People can get off the (Mass) Pike and shoot home.”
Johnson feels that the eco-friendly machine, the excellent customer service, and a 24-hour drop box, which guarantees that the clothes will be ready in two days, are some of the main things that set them apart from other similar companies.
As for future plans and goals, Johnson said, “I would like to do a little remodeling and also look to work more with local companies and set up “some sort of a pickup/drop-off service” with them. That is part of our long term plan.”
The Auburn store is at 700 Southbridge St., phone 508-832-3400.