SAN DIEGO—The downturn in the economy has resulted in more clothes being left at dry cleaning businesses longer, according to longtime cleaners.
Rick Morton, owner of Genesee Plaza Dry Cleaners in Kearny Mesa, said even high-end clothing items have been left at his business.
"Men's suits, women's suits and even wedding dresses," said Morton, who has worked in dry cleaning for approximately 30 years. "Last year and this year are the only times we've had wedding gowns not picked up."
Many dry cleaning businesses don't require customers to prepay for services. The businesses have to eat the costs when clothes aren't picked up.
"We spend hours and hours pre-spotting, cleaning it multiple times and this wedding dress has been here three years." said Tina Atkins, an employee at Genesee Plaza Dry Cleaners. "All these clothes are sitting here unpaid for and sometimes people never come and pick them up."
Atkins said weddings gowns typically cost around $300 to clean.
"It's obviously difficult on our bottom line," Morton said. "We hope to get that money but we don't."
Various dry cleaners around San Diego said they have also seen an increase in how long clothes are being left at their businesses.
"I had a gentleman call today wanting to know if his garments were still here from 347 days ago," Morton said. "We're making it but we're not putting a lot of money in the pot at the end of the month."
Atkins said anywhere between 30 to 50 percent of their inventory has been hanging on their racks for more than three months and almost all of those items have not been paid for yet despite the work being done.
Cleaners said they wait a few months and if tickets aren't claimed they try and reach out to the customers. If they can't get in contact with the owners, they eventually donate the clothes.
"It used to be once a year we would donate 10 or so items," Morton said. "Nowadays we're taking 70 to 80 garments."