Through sustainable practices and highly specialized services, this longstanding father and son operation is challenging New Yorkers to rethink what they expect from their neighborhood dry cleaner
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY AMANDA DOMENECH
At Bridgestone Dry Cleaners and Laundry, a nearly 40 year old family run specialty dry cleaning operation with locations in DUMBO and Cobble Hill, the term “sustainability” isn’t taken lightly. From the beginning, founder Ken Kinzer made a firm commitment to reduce his business’ environmental impact, years before proclamations like “eco cleaning” and “environmentally friendly” were advertised on storefronts at every corner.
“Everyone can say they are eco cleaners,” explained Zachary Kinzer, Bridgestone’s general manager and the founder’s son. “We’ve tried to put our foot down and ask what does it mean to be sustainable? It’s not regulated. We challenge people to really do research on what is actually cleaning our clothes.”
As a Green Earth cleaner, Bridgestone replaces traditional dry cleaning solutions that use petrochemical solvents with one based in silicone, an environmentally non-toxic alternative that’s gentle enough for lace and silk and safe for the planet’s water, soil, and air. Over the past decade, the father and son team has also significantly slashed the use of filler products like paper and plastic by 65%.
“Reducing our environmental impact has been a core tenet since the beginning.”
The founding Kinzer was trained at the NY School of Dry Cleaning before starting his own cleaning service in 1983. His enterprise was born a laundromat on Court Street but soon added dry cleaning to its services, and over the years the nameplate expanded to pick up and delivery, carpet cleaning, wedding gown specialty cleaning and preservation, and more, opening a DUMBO store and relocating to another location on Court Street.
The two store establishment specializes in wet cleaning, which is necessary to tackle water based stains. Dry cleaning, Kinzer explained, is only effective for oil based stains, so when someone comes in with a blouse soaked in red wine or coffee, the team needs to take a different approach.
“It’s a science,” noted Kinzer of wet cleaning. “It mimics hand cleaning and uses the exact amount of solution and timing needed. It babies the fabric; I have a different setting for cashmere, silk, even wedding gowns. We do the same thing on the dry cleaning side, and that’s really what has taken us to the next level. Take a Canada Goose jacket, for instance, with fur plus down. It has all these delicate materials that require different maintenance.”
By implementing technology, Bridgestone offers both the store and clients a way to keep track of a garment’s cleaning and maintenance history.
“Clients can log into their accounts and see all the garments they’ve ever had cleaned with us. A sweater, for example, will have a permanent bar code under the tag where you can’t see it, and it travels the life of the garment. You can see I inspected it at 2:15 on Monday, it was cleaned at 3:15 on Tuesday, then put on a truck, and we can track it. If it has a little hole and we repair it, it will show up in its history.”
This kind of attention to detail is paramount, noted the general manager, as the average purchase price of the garments they treat is $290. And for wedding gowns, that number rises tremendously.
“People invest so much in their wedding gowns, so we felt it was important to specialize in it,” continued Kinzer, noting the company has been a part of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists for the last several years. “Last year I cleaned a $28,000 gown. We hand cleaned it, re-stitched all the couture beading, and preserved it. The preservation is museum quality.”
Looking ahead, the duo has plans for further expansion and is in the process of growing its home cleaning division. The GM was quick to point out they will approach this budding aspect of business with the same fastidious attention to detail Bridgestone has employed for the last 40 years.
“My father has always stood by quality and customer service. It can be hard to separate yourself out from the crowd, but since the beginning, he’s been focused on quality and not just jumping in with everyone else. I credit him for that it’s hard to say ‘No, I want to be better. Yes, I might charge more, but I will do more.”
Bridgestone Dry Cleaners and Laundry
109 Front Street, DUMBO / 718.222.9958 175
Court Street, Cobble Hill / 718.643.9300