Delmarva Cleaners

Delmarvas new discount cleaner!
September 3, 2012

The dry-cleaning game has changed. Contrary to many views, the dry cleaning business is actually growing at a fast rate nationally. Yes, mom- and-pop cleaners are shutting down, but in their place, new discount cleaners have emerged that offer ridiculous value to consumers by thriving on volume. The value they offer is so compelling that many consumers are setting aside their own cleaning routines to simply drop off their items at a discount cleaner, saving time, money and actually ending up with better quality apparel to wear. 

Discounts Are Us

The name of this new game is profitability by discounting in exchange for high volume sales just like Wal-Mart’s retail formula. Delmarva Cleaners has thrown its hat into this ring and opened 3 locations in Sussex County providing dry-cleaning services at discounted rates. Most garments are cleaned for $1.99 and shirts are cleaned and pressed for even less, starting at $1.50!

“We find clients drop off 10 shirts at a time or multiple garments every week – taking advantage of the price and convenience we provide. In this tough economy, discounts add up.  We also find that people are working much more than in the past, having someone else do the cleaning is a huge help and a valuable time saver for our clients. It’s not just the cleaning but the pressing too.  People don’t need to slave with an iron for hours on end, when we can do it, and do it better with professional equipment.” Says Paco Hernandez, Regional Manager for Delmarva Cleaners.


The main operating plant is located in Laurel, DE. Laurel was an especially attractive site to Delmarva Cleaners for many reasons. First of all, there was no dry cleaner in town and there is a demand there – not just in Laurel, but many of the surrounding communities (all the way across the Maryland border).  Second, but also very importantly, Laurel has the lowest utility rates in Sussex County. Water and sewage rates are below Seaford and Georgetown. Laurel also has natural gas service, which is not available in Georgetown. Additionally, working with the Town of Laurel is especially attractive because of their supportive planning and zoning team that allowed the operation to quickly make the changes necessary to open this location. This reduced the cost of opening and increased the business unit’s speed to market.  When you are in the discount dry cleaning business, low costs matter, and all these factors have enabled Delmarva Cleaners to set up a very competitive business that can compete with anyone due to low costs.

Soon after opening in Laurel, Delmarva Cleaners entered into a strategic agreement with Service General Corporation that operates a number of retail service centers in Sussex County and, in association with them, Delmarva Cleaners has built out two drop off locations – one in Georgetown and another in Seaford.  In Georgetown and Seaford Delmarva Cleaners is located inside the Service General Retail locations – but offers separate entrances for clients, so they do not have to go through the laundromats to drop off or pick up their dry cleaning items.

Delmarva Cleaners expects to continue this relationship by opening two more locations at Service General’s Milford and Millsboro locations next year.

Repair and Alterations

In addition to discount dry cleaning, Delmarva Cleaners provides repair and alteration services. It’s much more than putting on buttons or sewing new hems for pants.  With a staff of experience tailors and technicians, then can do literally anything from complete zipper replacement to patching holes in clothing. In addition to clothing and shoe repair, qualified technicians are available to repair jewelry and electronics for our clients at extremely competitive rates.  One of the Service General retail stores has repair technicians inside its retail unit, and Delmarva Cleaners was able to take advantage of their technicians at wholesale rates to provide excellent repair services across a large number of consumer products.

In truth, small towns cannot justify, i.e. do not provide the critical consumer mass to attract and maintain, independent repair technicians with their own shops. Delmarva Cleaners has been able to develop a pick up and drop off system that gives everyone in these communities access to the highest quality repair technicians. If you have a pair of shoes that you love to wear, but it needs a new sole, you don’t have to buy a new pair - you can have it repaired now. It’s cheaper and better.  If you have a cracked screen on your iPhone, they can repair it. If your watch needs a new battery, they can install one. 

Commercial Accounts

Delmarva Cleaners has been able to garner several major commercial accounts since its recent opening. One service it has provided is cleaning and restoring bulk items for fire or flood damaged homes.  This is in support of companies that specialize in insurance related restoration services.

Another key service has been household and commercial space cleaning. They have a separate team that can provide maid service or regular office cleaning including carpet cleaning, floor polishing and also provide uniform and linen services (cleaning and returning uniforms, towels, sheets etc.). Paco Hernandez says they specialize in areas where the dry cleaning linkage adds value, for example janitorial jobs that require provision of non-paper, higher end alternatives to disposable products. As another example in addition to home or office cleaning Delmarva Cleaners also provides towel and linen washing. By eliminating disposable products, Delmarva Cleaners is also helping protect our environment and eliminates consumer waste. It’s simply better.  

Another interesting case study of how Delmarva Cleaners can support commercial customers is through wholesale cleaning service with Service General in support of their entry into the retail thrift business. Service General had a long standing interest in getting into the thrift (or apparel re-sale) business.  Many of their clients are working folks that need regular resupply of work clothing or are otherwise attracted to cheap apparel. With the help of Delmarva Cleaners, Service General has now entered into the thrift business with a new retail location in Seaford and market stalls throughout Delmarva. 

Service General buys bulk apparel (clothing, shoes, etc.) from the general public inside its retail stores at $.15 a pound, or will pick it up at no cost and then send these items to Delmarva Cleaners for cleaning, alteration and preparation for re-sale at Service General Thrift.  Apparel is completely renewed – meaning sanitized, cleaned, and pressed, ready for resale. Literally thousands of pounds of clothing have been received since our opening a few weeks ago! And Service General’s thrift sales have skyrocketed. 

Retail Manager Yolanda Trammell says: “Even with the cost of cleaning, we can take bulk clothing and present it for sale at unbelievable prices. When you can buy work clothing like jeans, t-shirts etc. at one third the cost of Wal-Mart, why go anywhere else? And then look at the incredible deals with jackets. Right here is a gently worn leather jacket for sale at not even a tenth of what it would cost new, and quite honestly I think its cooler to wear this, with a little wear on it, than a new jacket. This is all possible because to the ultra-low rates charged to us by Delmarva Cleaners.”

That’s the power of having a discount dry cleaner in Sussex County; both consumers and local businesses can win – and get ahead. 

Mr. Hernandez sums it up nicely. ”We are proud of being part of the business community in Sussex County, and having met an unfulfilled need in the region.  We are proud discounters, but that does not mean our service is inferior to anyone else in the market.  If anything, because of the volume of cleaning we do, we have more equipment, more resources, and more support systems than anyone else, which in turn means we offer even better service.” 

Mr. Hernandez also declared “We truly want to be a valued contributor to the business community here in Sussex County. One example of how we can help is our recent sponsorship of Senior Softball World Series held here in Sussex County. We cleaned every team’s uniforms every night and had it ready for them by 7am every morning!  We love challenges like that.”


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