Faxon Cleaners serves region since 1920s
For almost 100 years, the Eck family has been serving the Williamsport area’s dry cleaning needs. Passed from generation to generation, the business began in 1927 with the current owner’s great-grandfather on Park Avenue and is now owned by Michael Eck, who took over the business in 2019 from his dad, Garth.
Michael Eck recently shared the history of his family’s business.
In the beginning it was known as Handy Dollar Cleaner. The name then became Eck’s Cleaners and Dyers in 1935. In 1956, Eck’s grandfather moved the business to Loyalsock Township where it has operated as Faxon Cleaners ever since.
Longtime residents of the area are familiar with the quonset hut-style building, which originally housed the storefront and the plant for the business since it opened in the township. Then in 2001, the retail side of the business was expanded into building next door to the unique structure. The production side of the business now occupies the original building.
When the Eck family first began their journey in the cleaning business, fashions were very different than today’s.
“That was back in the Roaring 20’s when everybody wore suits a lot. Wool was what everybody was wearing,” said Eck.
Through the years, the business has adapted to accommodate changes in fashion preferences.
“There was a shift in what people were wearing. People stopped wearing so much wool. They stopped dressing up so much,” Eck said. In the 1970’s there was a polyester fad.
“We’ve constantly had to shift and change with the different fashions of the time,” he added.
Along the way, the business has also branched out, offering expanded services, such as pickup and delivery as well as adding two additional stores, one in Bloomsburg and one in Danville. Their service area now includes the entire Susquehanna Valley, from Wellsboro, Mansfield, Lock Haven down to Lewisburg and Sunbury.
“We have three or four trucks on the road every day,” Eck said..
The range of services has also increased, according to Eck, who noted that the logo of Faxon Cleaners is “We do it all.”
“Anything you need cleaned, we can do,” he said.
This includes anything from drapes, all clothing, rugs, suedes and leathers, purses, sneakers and UGGS.
He noted that suedes and leathers are sent to a professional furrier for cleaning.
Faxon has also expanded the business to include shoe repair in addition to all of the dry cleaning services.
Eck said that they have teamed up with Champion Shoe Repair at Lewisburg to offer customers full-sole and minor repairs for their footwear.
This past year, like many businesses, Faxon Cleaners experienced a decrease in business because of the pandemic.
When the governor ordered a shutdown last year Faxon Cleaners initially thought they might have to shut down, Eck said.
“We thought we may be forced to when the governor first came out with his original list. Dry cleaners were considered essential since like World War II. But then when Wolf came out with his non-life sustaining industries we were somehow left off of that for like a day. Then they re-thought that maybe people in a cleaning business during a health pandemic might be a good thing,” he said.
With the pandemic also came a change in lifestyle. Fewer weddings, proms being canceled and just people not holding social events or dining out has brought a decrease in business. Faxon offers brides a wedding dress preservation service and a tailor who does alterations on bridal gowns, which if there are no weddings, these services are moot. Businesses working remotely also brought a decreased need for business attire as well as people not attending church services in person affected the dry cleaning business.
“It’s picking up, but without those big functions, people just aren’t going out as much and if they do, the dress codes have relaxed a little bit. Even if you’re in an office building, you might get away with a polo instead of a button down and a suit and tie,” he said.
Whatever is next in future of Faxon Cleaners, Eck is certain that it will remain a family business.
“I’ve go three kids who all have said, at one point or another, ‘I’m going to run it when I get older,'” he said.