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Bemidji dry cleaner changes hands

BEMIDJI -- Dress Club Cleaners, the sole drycleaners in the area, changed owners in early July, ending a 50-year tradition for one family while starting fresh with another.

Chuck Lundblad, 68, and his wife, Penny, 65, ran the drycleaners for 26 years before selling it to new owner Richard Siegert.

"They were in it for a long time and they were just really tired of it," Siegert said. "They came and approached me on it and I knew the business so it worked out."

The idea of selling the business was one that the Lundblads had been pondering for several months, but when Chuck suffered from a ruptured aorta the idea became a reality.

Siegert has past experience in the drycleaner business, as he owned Bemidji Cleaners, which was located near the mall. He owned the business from 1985 to 1991 before selling it.

"It's a nice business," Siegert said. "It's nice to have your clothes pressed and cleaned and looking good."

Siegert said the business's functions will stay the same, but the equipment will be new with more of a push to go green with the cleaning chemicals used.

Percoethylene, the cleaning chemical that Penny Lundblad said she has used for years, is outlawed because it is said to cause cancer. Siegert said he is switching to a hydro-carbon solution, which he said works well.

"You talk to distributors and dealers who sell (percoethylene) and they don't even want to talk about it," Siegert said. "It's a great cleaning solution, one of the best in the market, but the government seems to want to get rid of it."

Lundblad said Dress Club Cleaners has used percoethylene for as long as she can remember, going back to when her dad, Harby Shuhart, owned bought the business in 1962.

The Lundblads bought the business from Penny's sister, Judy Pittman, who ran the business until 1986. Lundland said that her and her husband have been enjoying the time off, spending more time with their grandchildren and sleeping more.

"We just have been hanging out," Lundland said. "I have never slept to 7:30 (or) 8 in the morning in my life. We used to get out of bed at like 4 to be down there and start things before other people came in."

While the Lundblads are enjoying retirement, Siegert is scrambling to get the new equipment installed so that the drycleaners can open at the beginning of August.

Siegert said the employees from when the Lundblads owned the store will carry when the store reopens and everything will function as normal.