The red letters spelling “We Are Open” on a banner above Eagle Cleaners is easily visible to cars on nearby Williamsburg Blvd.
At the storefront, a door stopper holds the front entrance open throughout the day. Owner Mat Srebrow’s pet parrot, Emma, sits in her perch next to the window, ready to be held by children who enter the store.
These welcome signs to customers come as Eagle Cleaners, which along with other local dry cleaners are trying to recover from a sharp decrease in business induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Srebrow, whose father opened the store at its 6402 Williamsburg Blvd location in 1996, said he started seeing revenue slip in March and it is yet to stop falling.
The suits, shirts, pants, dresses and sweaters that used to come in a steady flow disappeared as office work turned virtual and formal events were cancelled.
According to Srebrow, business has been down as much as 85% and could continue falling in the current month.
“August is the worst month for dry cleaning year after year, so we’re probably in the worst of it now,” Srebrow said.
When Srebrow took over the store last year, after his father died, he inherited a strong base of regular customers. Some have been going to Eagle Cleaners since it first opened.
Prior to the pandemic, the store employed eight full-time workers, and was open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays.
All employees now work part-time with only one to three coming in per day. Store hours have been reduced to 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
“I feel terrible for the employees,” Srebrow said. “They can’t get work. I have to go home with that every night. I’m extremely tired by the time I get home.”
Eagle Cleaners rents their building, and Srebrow said he’s grateful that the landlord has been working with them on rent, which has helped. The cleaner also received a loan from the federal Paycheck Protection Program that helped with payroll as well as rent and utility payments.
As summer days start to wane and fall approaches, full of uncertainty, Srebrow dreams of a future when things go back to normal — when business returns “to what it was pre-pandemic, with all eight employees working… [and] we were busy Monday through Saturday, seven to seven.”
Staff photo by Joseph Ramos
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The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.
Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.
About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.
The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to https://www.civfed.org/.
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village