A longtime Champaign-Urbana dry-cleaning business has closed its doors because of the increasing costs of doing business, particularly complying with government regulations, its owner said.
Denny Lincicome, owner of Denny's Professional Cleaners & Launderers, said he closed his two locations in Urbana and one on Kirby Avenue in Champaign on Thursday morning, the same day the business filed for bankruptcy.
A fourth Denny's location, at 1205 S. Mattis Ave., C., is owned by a franchise operator and remains open.
Lincicome said his three stores have racks of clothes that have already been cleaned for customers, as well as clothes people brought in that the business wasn't able to clean before it closed.
"We're actually very concerned for our customers," Lincicome said. "We can't really do anything until the court-appointed trustee gives us direction, and we can open again so we can let people get their clothes."
He hopes to hear from a trustee by Monday. He said he would post signs on the doors of the businesses saying when he was able to reopen for customers to pick up their clothes.
Lincicome said the dry-cleaning business has come to be much more regulated by the government, and dry cleaners pay more fees now, including a licensing fee.
"Expenses have gone up tremendously because of that," he said.
Lincicome said the cleaning solvent used by dry cleaners for years used to cost $4.95 per gallon. It now costs $35 per gallon, with much of the increase coming from taxes on the chemical because of health and environmental concerns associated with it.
He bought new equipment a few years ago and switched to a more environmentally friendly – and cheaper – solvent, but the savings weren't enough to save his business. When he began to worry about whether he would be able to pay his 17 employees, he decided he would have to close.
"It was a tough decision, but it was the only decision we had," he said.
Lincicome said the family laundry business was started by his father in 1945. Denny Lincicome, the son, has operated the business for 46 years.
"It's been my life forever. It's what I do. Now it's what I did," he said, adding that he and his wife are both looking for work.
"We have a lot of very loyal customers. It's the hardest thing, because they knew our quality. They've been coming for years," Lincicome said. "Now they have to go out and experiment and find someone else to do the job the way they want it."