Clarendon Hills cleaner makes its mark
Paula Kim puts the dry cleaned clothes on the conveyor system at Silk Road Cleaners. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
On the clock
NAME: Silk Road Cleaners
LOCATION: 158 Burlington Ave., Clarendon Hills
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
PHONE: (630) 323-5893
Updated: September 10, 2012 6:14AM
CLARENDON HILLS — With the national and local economy still stagnating, local businesses have struggled to stay afloat. One way to make sure that customers keep coming back is to treat them like family, something Silk Road Cleaners tries to do.
Silk Road Cleaners is a family owned and operated laundry business with shops in Hinsdale, Countryside and Clarendon Hills that strives for excellent customer service. Owner Paula Kim has worked in the family business since she was a teenager.
Kim graduated in 2004 from Purdue University in West Lafayette with a degree in business management.
“I could have done something else, but this is fun, talking to customers, seeing messy clothes be cleaned,” Kim said. “I’ve worked here since junior high, after school and on weekends and worked Saturdays [at the Hinsdale shop] while studying at Purdue.”
The Clarendon Hills shop opened in December 2006 and the Hinsdale shop has been open since 1996. Paula’s father, John Kim, is the family member who has spent the most time working at the Clarendon Hills shop, while Paula has managed the Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills shops.
Julie Ro, her cousin, also works at the Clarendon Hills store Monday through Friday to better facilitate customer service since English is not John’s first language. He was born and lived in Korea for more than 40 years, running his own business, Paula said.
She said the Clarendon Hills shop has about 200 loyal, regular customers, some of whom have even said “If you can’t get the stain out, no one can.”
“Good customer service has helped us a lot,” she said. “We treat customers as family and do our best to remember customers’ names and make sure they are respected. They are important to us.”
Silk Road Cleaners has resisted passing along increased costs to its valued customers. “We haven’t increased our prices since we opened even though charges for utilities have increased,” Kim said.
The company offers a broad array of services to its loyal customer base, including dry cleaning, laundry, expert tailoring and specialized alterations, washing and folding clothes for customers unable to do laundry at home, cleaning comforters, taking down and rehanging washed drapes, and preservation of special occasion clothes such as wedding dresses. A tailor works at the shop Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They are also trying to expand pick-up and delivery service, she said.
Silk Road Cleaners is an environmentally friendly operation. The family recycles the old laundry hangers that customers bring back to the shop.
Kim has special plans to give back to the community this holiday season.
“We’d like to find senior homes that are in need and clean comforters or other materials they use at no charge,” she said. “We’d love to help and are able to give back because of the generosity of the community. It’s a thought we’ve always had but haven’t yet been able to do.”