Chambers Cleaners "hangs it up" after almost 53 years


It's been a pretty emotional and heavy few months for Steve and Teresa Chambers. 

Steve's father, Maynard, passed away back in October. Then, a mere two months later, the couple's first grandchild was born down in Florida. All the while, Steve and Teresa were gearing up for retirement. That last day at work was Monday, as the couple officially "hung it up" and closed the doors on Chambers Cleaners, the venerable dry cleaning business on North Jefferson Street that first opened in 1969. Needless to say, there were a few tears shed on Monday.

"It's been nice that people have come by just to tell us good bye," Steve said. "They didn't have anything to pick up or anything of that nature. Just wanted to stop by and say how much they appreciated us, and that’s been great. It really has.”

Added Teresa: “Some of them, they were customers when Steve’s mom and dad opened the business up 53 years ago. Some of them, we’ve been the only dry cleaners they’ve ever used. You know, everybody has different reasons. That’s the hard part, but it’s been nice to visit with everybody and get a hug and cry with them and laugh with them.”

The Chambers are very much looking forward to “having the freedom to go and see our brand-new grandchild." They don't plan on selling the business, but they do plan on eventually selling the building.

"After 44 years, and Teresa has been by my side for 32 of those years, it's time to sit down. That's what we decided to do," Steve said. "It was easier just to shut down. We'll be selling the building, and hopefully it will be repurposed."

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2018 was the last time that local voters had a go-around with TPLOST. In May of that year, a "regional TSPOST" was on the ballot. Baldwin County voters actually voted in favor of the reg

Maynard Chambers was working at the old McGaw Laboratories factory on North Columbia Street back in the late ‘60s. The company wanted him to relocate to California, but Maynard and wife June had no interest in heading west. Maynard had degrees in chemistry and physics, and he heard about a new dry cleaning franchise, known as Martinizing Dry Cleaning. He quit his job, took a deep breath and the couple dove into small business ownership.

“Martinizing was a franchise, and that’s what really interested my dad. Someone would teach him,” Steve said. 

The original Chambers Cleaners location opened in the summer of Woodstock on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, then known as Gwinnett Street. The original location still stands today and is a coin-op laundromat across from the northside CVS.

Would anybody show up, however? That was the problem. As a hedge, Maynard and June raided their own closet, took most of their clothes to work and bagged them up and put them on the cleaning line, just to make the business look busy. The customers indeed showed up, and the couple gradually was able to take their garments  back home.

“It all worked out,” said Steve. “And for that, we feel really fortunate.”

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