For over 50 years, the
dry-cleaning and laundry business has remembered customers'
names and served them with clean and pressed clothes.
Through major changes in
cleaning solvents, steam machines that create almost unbearable
conditions in the summer and some events that wreaked havoc on
the family business, Clayton Cleaners has proven to be a
"It's always been part
of our philosophy to memorize our customers' names, and
hopefully learn where they work and where they live."
Robert Poirier says. "That way, the customers know that
they aren't just a number to us."
could say the customers are like family, but the workers are the
real thing. The third generation of founders Clayton and Beulah
Dupuis' family now manage the business. Their grandson, David
Dupuis, is the general manager while his mother, Dorothy Dupuis,
and Uncle Robert Poirier own the company.
Cleaners started in 1947 when Clayton and Beaulah Dupuis both
out a small pressing and tailoring shop in Bay City after moving
from Detroit. Clayton Dupuis was actually a baker, but most of
his family lived in Bay City and owned bakeries. Not wanting to
be in competition with his other family members, he moved into
the cleaning and pressing business.
business grew when the couple purchased dry-cleaning equipment,
and later pressing machines for men's shirts. Men's shirts are
the biggest part of the business today. Clayton's washed and
presses about 400 shirts a day, six days a week.
the business is thriving. In fact, the building on Henry Street
makes some people claustrophobic, David says jokingly. Clothes
on hangers weave a maze through the back room.
baskets in the front overflow with customers' laundry,
everything from leather coats to curtains.