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Fresh start for longtime dry cleaning shop

Shirts and pants pressed, wedding gown cleaned, clothing altered, draperies cleaned; check, check, check and check.

The ability of residents of Brookings and the surrounding areas to check these things off their to-do lists will remain intact as the only dry cleaning business within 30 miles of Brookings will remain open under new ownership.

Hagen’s Dry Cleaners, owned by Sylvia Baker since 1984, was in danger of closing its doors for good when Brookings resident Ty Herron decided to take a chance and offered to buy the business and keep it open.

Hagen’s has been doing business, and serving the needs of the citizens of Brookings, for 51 years. Baker bought the business from her mother, ran it successfully for 38 years before she decided it was time to retire and put the store on the market.

Late in 2012, with no sale pending, Baker put a sign in the window of her establishment stating that they would be open until they ran out of dry cleaning solution, or the end of November, whichever came first.

That is when Herron stepped in.

“My sister told me that it was available,” he said. “And I decided to take a chance and buy it.”

Herron currently works full time at South Coast Lumber and, while he plans on keeping his current job, he is excited by the opportunity has to become a small business owner.

“I’ve wanted my own business for years, but the right opportunity never came up,” he said. “I thought if I could get into a successful turn-key business then I’d have a way to get out of the mill, which is really hard on the body.”

Herron was raised in Sacramento, Calif., but moved to Brookings in 1996 when he got out of the Army.

“I’ve been here a while,” he explained, “I’m just not a native.”

Hagen’s has been offering the same services for a long time, and Herron has no plans to change what they offer.

“The only change I’m planning on making is to start taking plastic,” he said. “My accountant told me that I really need to start taking credit cards to be able to expand my client base.”

Herron plans to upgrade equipment when it breaks down, but freely admits that there is no need to fix or change what isn’t broken.

“It’s old, but most of the old is better than the new,” he said. 

The move to accept credit cards marks a shift by the business to find new customers but retain the old. 

According to Baker, the business has been serving some of the same clients for the entire time its been open.

“Dick O’Holleran has been a customer for 51 years,” she said with a laugh. “We always know it’s Friday when Dick comes in.”

Baker admits that she’ll feel some loss as she gives up the business. 

“It will be different when I don’t see my customers on a regular basis,” she said. “I’ll really miss the face-to-face time with them.”

Herron hopes to keep the long-time customers happy and one way he plans to do it is to keep the employees who have been serving them.

“I’m keeping Mary (Toft); she has been here 18 years,” Herron said. “I’ve also hired my sister (Tina Eszlinger) to help as the business manager.”

Hagen’s offers dry cleaning, alterations, regular laundry services, stain and spot removal, pressing and drapery cleaning and can be reached by phone at 541-469-3628, or in person at 1107 Chetco Ave., in Brookings.

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