Husband and wife duo Berry and Sharon Wright of Lithia are back in business together for the second time.
The entrepreneurial partners created and delivered helium balloon bouquets back in the early 1980s while attending Louisiana Tech University. They often dressed as clowns and once fulfilled an order of 3,000 for Grambling State University — by hand.
This time, they have automated their new business and offer a 24-hour pick up kiosk. The couple has opened Tide Dry Cleaners at 1928 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico. The location, in the Crest Pointe Towne Center anchored by Walmart, features a two-lane drive-through valet and a two-conveyor system inside the 3,000 square foot building.
One conveyor services what looks like a drive-up ATM machine. The difference is your pin number gets you freshly laundered garments instead of greenbacks.
"We got a lot of customers that are already doing it," Berry Wright said. "It really is a new way to look at dry cleaning and we want it to be nice and bright in a nice environment."
To use the kiosk, customers put a credit card on file and access orders with a PIN or a smartphone. Tide Dry Cleaners will send an email when your order is ready, along with a scan code.
Berry Wright said one of his first guests had 52 garments in the machine, though it delivers only a handful at a time. It’s available for popular pieces such as shirts and pants, but don’t expect to pick up a prom dress or comforter using the ATM.
Since this is a national franchise stemming from Procter & Gamble’s Cincinnati headquarters, customers will have their clothes cleaned using Tide and Downy products. Tide Dry Cleaners also touts its GreenEarth cleaning technology that claims to be gentler on clothes, skin and the environment by avoiding petroleum-based solvents traditionally found in dry cleaners.
The Wrights have committed to opening nine locations in the Tampa Bay area, with their second site slated to open by the end of 2018 on South Dale Mabry Highway near the Sprouts Farmer’s Market. They were attracted to a Tide Dry Cleaners franchise from business partner Joe Blancato, who introduced them to the Naples franchisee.
"I like to work," said Berry, who sold International Food Group in Plant City to Sysco in 2004. "We’ve been looking ever since. I’ve always wanted to deal with the public. I’ve done business to business. I love it. It’s kind of my hobby."
The Wrights promise garments in by 9 a.m. will receive same-day treatment and be ready for pickup at 5 p.m., but rugs, leather and wedding dresses are sent to specialists. Alterations can be completed in a week and buttons are replaced for free.
Tide Dry Cleaners holds its grand opening all day Saturday (May 19). New customers receive welcome bags with samples, coupons and a list of services including "back to black" where $2 more promises color restoration of items such as a cotton polo black or a faded white dress shirt.
The couple likely won’t don any clown makeup for the event, but they have been known to dry clean a mascot costume. Visit facebook.com/TDCValrico/ for details.
Contact Eric Vician at [email protected]