My Beautiful Laundrette: Smoking, and its part in dry cleaning’s downfall

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In his latest column for Altrincham Today, Conor Slevin, the owner of Altrincham Dry Cleaners, takes a sideways look at life and work in the town. This week: Smoking, onesies and the dry cleaning industry.

The dry cleaning industry has taken a few knocks in recent years. Relaxation of office dress codes, for example, has encouraged suited and booted execs to swap their Dry Clean Only pinstripes for machine washable shirts and chinos. For many these days, suits are dusted off only for the odd “sacrament social” (christenings, weddings and funerals).

The high street is twisting the knife, too. The likes of Primark and TK Maxx have encouraged a generation to spend less but frequently on well designed, reasonable quality clobber. Generally speaking, it’s just not worth the cost of dry cleaning a dress you can “charity shop” and replace for just a couple of quid more.

Around 2007, a number of things happened in quick succession. We spent our way into a credit crunch and learned all about quantitative easing, which is when money is… erm… invented to… umm… Anyway. Lots of us were broke and stayed in and watched telly in our onesies. We don’t dry clean a lot of onesies. That won’t surprise you.

And then Twitter was invented. Together with Facebook, that was another brilliant reason not to go out, see friends or talk to people or socialise in the traditional sense.

[blockquote]I still associate smoking with socialising, recalling active and passive smokers packed into the Stamford Arms or Cheshire Mid back in the 90s[/blockquote]

In July 2007, a national smoking ban was introduced, making it illegal to smoke in all sorts of places. I’m a big fan of people being alive and healthy, so I think this was a great idea.

Unless you owned a pub. I’m guessing the smoking ban was a show stopper for a lot of boozers up and down the country. I have never been a smoker. I tried it, spluttered a bit and decided it’s not for me. I trust the doctors and I’ve seen those awful pictures on fag packets. Smoking is DEFINITELY bad for you.

However, I still associate smoking with socialising, recalling active and passive smokers packed into the Stamford Arms or Cheshire Mid back in the 90s. It’s just the way it was and the experience of other generations will be different. Hopefully healthier. I always thought chain smoking sounded ludicrously dangerous too. I mean, what if you got your nose trapped in the bicycle cogs? (Boom boom…)

The smoking ban’s effect on the dry cleaning industry was dramatic. Pubs and restaurants were smellier places before, and you wouldn’t dare to wear the same blouse or trousers to work if they had residual evidence of smoke or “one or two” shandies.

Anyway. I won’t take up any more of your broadband allowance with unsolicited ramblings. I’ll leave that up to U2. If you fancy stopping smoking, take a look at the Stoptober campaign from the NHS and don’t worry about THIS dry cleaner. Maybe I’ll introduce a two-for-one deal on onesies.

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