Higher Gas Prices Increase Dry Cleaning Costs

By: Allison Hunt
By: Allison Hunt

Knoxville (WVLT) – You see the effect of gas prices at the pump, but what about on your dry cleaning bill?

A local company has added on a few dollars to help with costs.

Crown Cleaners first started the temporary six dollar surcharge after Hurricane Katrina. When prices dropped, so did the extra six dollars.

But now with prices back up, they needed a way to offset fuel prices.

All day, fours days a week, Crown Cleaners heads out with a truckload of clothes.

"We are making trips to homes and offices whether or not somebody has garments to be picked up or to be delivered,” says Don Holecek, Crown Cleaners owner.

And with gas prices at $2.85 a gallon, trip costs add up.

"It's a tough business right now,” Holececk says.

Tough, because the money has to come out of someone's pocket, so instead of raising the price per item, Holececk tacked on what he is calling a "temporary" surcharge for pickups and deliveries.

"It's six dollars a month, which broken down is about 75 cents a trip to a home or office that's based on about eight trips a month,” says Holececk.

But spending about $180 a week at the pump isn't the only reason for the surcharge, supply prices increase too.

"The plastic that goes over bags, obviously is made out of oil, the main dry cleaning solvent is a derivative of oil,” Holececk explains.

But Holececk says customers understand, and local businesses like the convenience.

"It's easier for us, we are such a busy office that it would take time of us helping our patients to have to run down there two times a week,” says Nicole Setzer from Kelley Chiropractic.

And Kelley Chiropractic has a lot of laundry, every day: gowns, sheets, lab coats and pillowcases need cleaning.

"We always have laundry coming in and out, they have blue bags there and we fill up two of those a week,” says Setzer.

And if gas prices drop below $2.50 a gallon, the six dollars will be washed from the bill.

"One way or another the customer unfortunately will pay for it, and I thought just having a temporary surcharge was the best option,” says Holececk says.

Holececk says there were a few customers who weren't happy with the surcharge, but he says they didn't need dry cleaning service every day.

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