Varsity Cleaners in Iowa City to close after more than 100 years

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:23 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -For more than 100 years people in Iowa City have been getting their clothes cleaned at Varsity Cleaners. Soon, the business will close its doors for good.

Wednesday was tough for both customers and staff as it was the last day clothes could be dropped off.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid,” one customer said.

Deb Reese started working at Varsity Cleaners in June.

”When you can go to work because you like to? I think you kind of made it,” Reese told us.

Some employees have spent a significant portion of their lives working at Varsity Cleaners.

”I started working here before I had kids, and now I have a grandson,” Kelly Jorgensen said, an employee of 30 years.

Owner David Geasland has lead Varsity Cleaners for 20 years.

”COVID has really just killed us and no one’s working so they don’t need their clothes cleaned,” he said.

Working from home has changed the dress code even now that many have returned to their offices. The Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute is projecting a loss of 30% of the industry before the pandemic is over.

Staffing shortages are also playing a role in the closure of Varsity Cleaners.

Geasland has been working everyday since the pandemic started to trying to keep the business going.

”I could keep fighting and we’ve been surviving and going okay but not making any money and like I said I’ve been working 7 days a week, it gets to you after two years,” Geasland said.

Varsity Cleaners was established in 1915.

”I’ve seen it when we have been so busy we can’t even keep up,” Jorgensen said.

Scott Pratt has been a loyal customer at Varsity Cleaners for more than four years.

”I like to make sure my uniforms look good and I mean all these doctors and lawyers and everyone that come in here I mean yeah they’re going to have to find a new place,” he said.

Pratt told us it’s the staff he will really miss. Staff members said it’s the customers they will miss the most.

“You’ve all been great you’ve made my life so pleasant, thank you,” Jorgensen said.

The last day for customers to pick up their clothes is January 21st at 4 p.m.

”Thanks for everyone for their support and kind words. We’re going to be fine, we’ll be okay,” Geasland said.

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