Cotty’s Dry Cleaners in Barrie calls for government intervention post-pandemic

The dry cleaning industry is calling on the government for help as its future remains uncertain.

On Thursday, the Canadian Fabricare Association (CFA) said over 30 per cent of cleaners had vanished.

“The dry cleaning industry was designated as an essential service and received no financial help from either the provincial or federal government,” wrote the CFA in a statement.

The Association is now calling on politicians to consider a tax credit to customers who use a commercial cleaner or launderer to help stimulate the economy.

“We’re looking for that incentive from the government to help them out to help the cleaners out,” said David Alonzi, a CFA board member and president of GreenClean.

Kim Sekleski-Polley has owned Cotty’s Cleaners in Barrie for two decades.

Over that time, she has seen industry shifts but never to the extent during the pandemic.

“Business today is very different than pre-pandemic,” said Sekleski-Polley.

Over the last two years, business has slowed down due to the cancellation of large gatherings like weddings and funerals.

Now that the restrictions are gone, she says business isn’t showing signs of bouncing back.

“We’re going to be in trouble; not sure trouble, but we’re going to become a niche, high-end market where people are going to come to us for very specific things,” said Sekleski-Polley.

Evolving fashion is one reason for the shift in business.

According to industry experts at Georgian College and George Brown College, fashion has taken a more comfortable approach.

“A good friend of mine who owns a high-end fashion boutique in Toronto had to completely change her buying strategies during the pandemic, forgoing woven pieces for elevated knits that her clients could wear for their virtual meetings,” said Joy Walker, a professor at George Brown College School of Fashion Studies.

Georgian College professor Angela Aujla has studied fashion and its trends for many years, and says clothing can bring a sense of security. With many people forced to work from home, fashion changed with it.

“We get a sense of comfort and security through the clothing that we choose,” said Aujla.

“Even pre-pandemic, there was a move, especially in women’s clothes, towards softer fabrics, more casual wear, with the burgeoning Athleisure market, but during the pandemic, loungewear or home wear definitely took off.”

This shift means fewer garments requiring dry cleaning.

Although good news could be on the horizon for dry cleaners. Both Walker and Aujla believe this winter could see a resurgence in formal clothing due to a restriction-free holiday season, which could extend past Christmas.

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