Dry cleaning businesses dry up in Thunder Bay

The last dry cleaner in the city will only offer commercial and industrial dry cleaning

THUNDER BAY — Personal dry cleaning services will no longer be available in the Thunder Bay area as of the end of this week.

Supreme Cleaners, the last local dry cleaner, has announced it will stop accepting personal clothing cleaning orders after Friday, Aug. 26.

Its Camelot Street and North Edward Street depots will remain open for the next seven weeks with reduced hours, to allow customers to pickup completed orders.

After Friday, the company will only provide commercial and industrial dry cleaning, along with linen and tablecloth rentals.

Supreme Cleaners cites staffing shortages and hiring challenges for the decision, saying it can’t meet its production demands with the number of staff available.

Co-owner Don Buset said that at one point there were 10 operating dry cleaners in Thunder Bay, “and now we’re down to one, and we can’t find any workers. That’s the bottom line. If we found workers, we wouldn’t be closing.”

Supreme has been operating for 80 years.

Buset called the closure of the personal cleaning side of the business frustrating but necessary.

“If you’ve got a portion of the business that’s lucrative, and the other portion isn’t, and you only have enough people to work the first portion, then you close down the second portion that isn’t lucrative,” he said.

Dresswell Cleaners shut down in the 1990s, and Perth’s closed its Thunder Bay outlet about a decade ago.

Numerous dry cleaning businesses in North America have seen business decline since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as more people have been working at home rather than in office environments.

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