When Bonnie and Cloyd George bought Nu Cleaners in 1984, they did it for the adventure. The Georges were first-time business owners and neither one of them had a background in dry cleaning — but the business sounded interesting and they were determined to learn.
“We wanted to become businesspeople, business owners,” she said. “This was something that we just talked over and decided that’s what we wanted to do — go into the dry cleaning business.”
Nu Cleaners, which first opened in 1950, was already fairly established as a business. Bonnie became the shop’s primary manager, running its day-to-day operations while Cloyd worked at Tooele Army Depot. She learned dry cleaning from Agatha Gomez, one of Nu Cleaners experienced employees.
“She helped me to learn all the things that I needed to know about the business, about the dry cleaning and the pressing,” Bonnie said. “She helped me a lot. She worked with me for quite a few years and then she retired.”
Gomez still lives in Tooele. Last November, she celebrated her 92nd birthday.
Bonnie liked learning about dry cleaning from Gomez.
“It was fun to learn the different things about the dry cleaning industry,” she said. “Not everybody realizes with textiles, when you buy them it can sometimes be very challenging for them and for us. We have to be on top of that and learn about it.”
In addition, there was always something new to learn. The dry cleaning industry has changed dramatically since the Georges bought the shop in 1984.
“People don’t get as dressed up as they used to in years past,” Bonnie said. “Styles have changed, and people’s wants and needs have changed. So that’s been interesting too, to see how people have kind of dressed down a little bit — it’s not suits and ties like it used to be for businesspeople. That’s been something that’s changed over the time we’ve been here.”
Over the 35 years they ran Nu Cleaners, Bonnie and Cloyd greatly enjoyed themselves. After Cloyd retired from TEAD in 1990, they began doing everything together, from waiting on customers to cleaning and pressing. Cloyd also did the accounting work.
“We both like to work, so I guess we knew what we were getting into,” Bonnie said. “Our hours have been from six in the morning to six in the evening, six days a week. It was wonderful.”
Cloyd added, “It was nice working with my wife that long.”
The Georges’ four children also pitched in. Their youngest child was around 15 years old when the family acquired Nu Cleaners.
“Our kids have always been there. They’ve always helped us if we needed something,” Bonnie said. “They were some of our first employees.”
In addition to giving the George family a chance to work closely together, Nu Cleaners provided priceless opportunities to get to know their neighbors. Bonnie estimated that she and Cloyd have met hundreds of new people through their business.
For them, serving others and forging new friendships was one of the most rewarding parts of running the store, Cloyd said.
Bonnie added, “Going into business and being able to serve the people in Tooele with their needs … has been an adventure. It’s been good. We’ve learned a lot and … we’ve had some wonderful customers, and we appreciate the support the community has given us. We’ve made lots of good friends.”
At times, Bonnie found herself helping people from outside Tooele County whom she never would have met if it weren’t for Nu Cleaners.
“It’s been really neat because I’ve had customers come in from Delta, some as far as Ogden and people who are traveling, people working out here at the army depot,” she said. “There’s been a lot of people I probably never would’ve met. This has been a neat thing to do just to get to know people.”
In addition to customers, Bonnie fondly remembered many of her employees. After Gomez retired, Bonnie worked with several other women who helped her press clothes.
“They were all wonderful, dependable people,” she said.
Bonnie also enjoyed giving some of the young people in the community their first work experience.
“It’s been interesting because some of them wouldn’t know how to count change and it was fun to help them learn how to do those kinds of things and to work with the public,” she said.
She tried to give her young employees a sense of responsibility.
“I tried to teach them that I expected them to be where they needed to be — at work,” Bonnie said. “I enjoyed every one of them. They were all very special.”
But running Nu Cleaners hasn’t always been easy. During their time as store owners, Bonnie and Cloyd have worked through two recessions, a few wars, and two generations of customers.
“There were times that were bad, but you just grin and bear it,” Cloyd said.
Overall, the Georges’ experience in the dry cleaning business was positive.
“It’s been a good experience,” Bonnie said. “We’ve loved it.”
As they retire from dry cleaning, the Georges are seeking their next adventure.
“We have lots of plans but no decisions,” Bonnie said. “Every day will be a different day — it will be an adventure. We’ll just enjoy each other and our family.”