After 13 years in business, Vineyard Cleaners, a dry cleaning business located in Merchant Court in Vineyard Haven, will shut its doors on Oct. 1, in the face of a changing market and increased competition.
Speaking to The Times Wednesday from his Falmouth location, owner Paul Ferzoco said the market for a year-round dry cleaning business on the Island is very small, especially now that a Lapels Dry Cleaning franchise opened last week down the street.
“It’s a small marketplace, and I’ll be honest with you, it’s good enough for one, not two year-round businesses,” he said.
He said the past few winter seasons have been slow. It took Vineyard Cleaners until August to make up for this year’s harsh winter.
“There would be some winter days last year where you’d open the door and you might take in $200, $300 worth of volume, and you can’t survive that,” he said. “Now you put another guy in, and what are you fighting over? $100?”
Mr. Ferzoco, who lives off-Island and owns another dry cleaning business in Hyannis, feared that the competition could run Vineyard Cleaners into debt and affect his entire operation. He said he found out about the new business opening in March, and by May knew it was time to close his store. Lapels Dry Cleaning handles clothes on the premises, whereas Vineyard Cleaners transports clothes to be cleaned at a mainland location.
“Maybe if it were a drop store, I would say ‘OK, we’re both fighting the same battle,’” he said. “But when I heard they have a machine, I knew they were going to be able to open earlier, they were going to be able to close later, and over time, I can’t do that.”
In many regards, however, Mr. Ferzoco said he is ready for the change.
“I’m 57, I’m not retiring, but it takes a lot of energy to keep up with the schedules and so forth, and sometimes things happen for the best,” he said. “I’m not an old guy, but it’s a young man’s business.”
He stressed that he will miss the Island community and the customers he has met over the years.
“Believe me, that store and Martha’s Vineyard, it’s a great place,” he said. “The community is awesome over there, it really is.”
But now he’s ready to step aside.
“I’m willing to pass the torch, seriously, I really am,” he said. “Good luck to the new people. They made a sizable investment.”