Photos and Sound Design: Angie Hayes
Eric Warren is the owner of Henry's Dry Cleaners, at the corner of Kinsman Road and E. 116th Street. The business is named after his grandfather, who established it nearly 50 years ago. Below, he shares the story of this fixture of the Mount Pleasant neighborhood.
My grandpa was the owner before me. I started off just coming in and helping him out on weekends as a child. And later on, as it grew, I started coming in on other days just helping out. And eventually I just came in as his manager.
I’m only 47, but a lot of the older customers, they come in and they can’t believe I was just a kid [when they started] coming here. Like, 'Wow, that has been 50 years that you guys have been here on the corner?'
A lot of my customers come back just because of how we treat them when they come in. If we see the customers pulling up we try to have their clothes out before they even get in here. So that’s very important for me, the customer service part.
The only thing that would get me to leave would probably be money: if someone came in and bought me out. But other than that it’s, you know, this is where I am. This is where I'm gonna be.
This neighborhood is getting a bad rap -- and it should, because of the violence that’s out there. But it’s not as bad as if you just saw it on the news or read it in the papers. You would think, 'I’m never going nowhere near there, it’s like Beirut or something.' But it’s not actually as bad as news and the media portrays it to be. You're not hearing the good stories coming out of the neighborhood.
We actually just purchased the land that’s next to us so we’re gonna do a green space there.
It’s three lots where the sewer district is working now. What we’re gonna do is just take it and plant trees, make it a park-like setting, and do water retention. But it’s [mostly] just a green space to beautify the neighborhood cause if you saw the lot before it was just nothing there.
Like I said, we've been here this long and we want the community to know that, you know, we're here to stay.