If you don’t think the city’s best dry cleaning business should get a little extra love, then you’ve never spilled an entire glass of Merlot on your favorite pair of tapered pants.
Those who have marvel at that it’s possible to leave our worst clothing disasters at the counter and pick them up a few days later, pressed and clean and good as new. If you’ve never peeked behind the curtain, it might seem like magic.
That’s what David Reeves thought before he got into the dry cleaning business. The former landscape architect had been looking for a career change, and when acquired an already existing facility in 1990, and found out there’s plenty of sweat and labor that goes into removing stains and pressing shirts.
“I didn’t know a lot about dry cleaning when I started, but I learned real fast,” laughs Reeves, who has lived in Savannah since 1974 and raised three kids here with his wife, Lynn.
Those kids—now with kids of their own—inspired him to go green from the very beginning, eschewing the highly toxic perchloroethylene many drycleaners use and opting for a biodegradable hydrocarbon solvent instead. Each location uses compostable packaging and collects hangers and garment bags to repurpose, and has a robust in-house recycling program.
More recently David’s began using the ultra-efficient Union HL 860 alternative solvent machine lauded as the planet’s finest.
“It’s our new toy,” says Reeves with a grin.
“It’s a closed loop machine that cleans and dries without letting any vapors escape—it cools the solvent back to liquid to be used again, and it doesn’t put anything out into the atmosphere.”
David’s relocated to President Street in 2006, housing its own plant where items collected at its Habersham Village and Pooler locations are serviced. (Their marketing motto “drop your pants here” makes us giggle every time.) Around 20 employees dry clean, press and sort shirts, skirts, gowns, curtains and anything else with the “dry clean only” label, and Reeves estimates around 2000 garments a week come through the multi-level conveyor belt every week.
He still won’t call himself an expert, but he’s gained enough experience in the business to give some valuable advice when it comes to our favorite clothes. Read the labels, don’t store them in the plastic garment bags and make sure you point out delicate beading or other decoration to the counter attendant.
“The main thing is to hang things up after you’ve worn them, and if you do get something on it, don’t let stains set,” he enjoins. “The sooner you bring it to the cleaners, the more success we’ll have in getting it out.” —Jessica Leigh Lebos
Runner-up: Savannah Dry Cleaners