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Three Generations of West’s Dry Cleaners
by Audrey Hanes, photography by Amy Long

In 1958, Ed and Francis West started a dry cleaning business on Gee Street in Jonesboro. Sixty years later, their grandson, Rob Henegar, along with his wife, Susan, and several other family members, are continuing the family business by focusing on quality dry cleaning and personalized customer care.

After moving to Jonesboro from Shelbyville, Tenn. and opening West’s Dry Cleaning in February of 1958, Ed passed away in September of that year, leaving his wife and daughter, Darlene, to run the business.

“In 1975, I got out of the Army and came back to Jonesboro,” said Rob. “I was going to help my mom for six months, and it turned into 44 years and counting. It’s always been family owned and operated.”

At one point, West’s Dry Cleaners had three locations, but Rob said they consolidated to one location before moving from University Shopping Center to their current location on Nettleton Avenue in 2005.

“Business is good,” said Rob. “We take care of our employees, and in turn, they take good care of our customers. We focus on quality, quality, quality.”

Rob and Susan own and manage the business, along with one of their daughters, Sara Sullivan, her husband, Randy, and their niece, Samantha Brown. Other much-appreciated employees include Kelsey Duft, Chris Duft, Nick Fonda and Nicole Gnade.

“We have the best employees; we’re lucky to have them,” said Susan. “We also do a lot of alterations. Our seamstress, Delois ‘Ms. Dee’ Henry, has been with us for more than 10 years. We try not to send anything out that’s not ready to wear. Even if customers don’t mention a hole in a pair of pants or a missing button, we try to catch all that and get it taken care of before we send it home with them.

“If you do a good job, it keeps that return business. We are not perfect, but we try hard, we really, really do.”

Susan said West’s Dry Cleaners averages 500 to 600 pieces of clothing a day and offers convenient services to its regular customers. For those who regularly bring in their clothes, West’s offers an express service that allows customers take home a West’s Dry Cleaners bag, fill it with their clothes and simply drop it off on the counter when they bring it by the business.

“We know their preferences, from starch to repairs, so it’s really easy and efficient for them to be able to use that express service,” said Rob. “We really know our customers. If you come in once or twice, Kelsey and Sara will know your name. That’s really important to us here.”

Although the dry cleaning industry has gone through some substantial changes over the years, including West’s Dry Cleaner’s switch to all eco-friendly products, the family says business is very good, thanks in part to their loyal customer and their longtime reputation for quality dry cleaning.

“It’s grown so much as far as amount of customers and how much we do,” said Sara. “We have some really loyal customers. We have people that drive in from Paragould, Lake City, Manila and other places; they drive out of their way to bring their clothes to us.”

Another convenient service that West’s Dry Cleaners offers to its customers is an email notification system. As soon as a customer’s order is finished, they instantly receive an email letting them know that their clothes are ready to be picked up.

“I enjoy interaction with customers, I really do,” said Susan of what she loves most about the family business. “I love being around the public. … We always say, ‘West’s is the best, we’ll starch you up just right,’ and that really is the case.”

West’s Dry Cleaners will celebrate its 60 years of business later this month with 104.9 FM The Fox; details will soon be announced on the business’ Facebook page. West’s will also offer 20 percent off to customers who mention the anniversary or the discount.

West’s Dry Cleaners, located at 3418 E. Nettleton Ave., is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, find West’s Dry Cleaners on Facebook or call (870) 935-3577.