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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Difference Between Storing Your Clothes at Home vs. Storing them at Shores

While I’m not a big fan of winter, I do like the fact that we have different seasons, and if I’m going to be completely honest, much of it has to do with clothing.  My style varies with each season, and just as I’m getting bored with the things in my closet, the weather changes and so do my outfits.  I love the wardrobe change; I don’t love the work involved.

Sometimes when I’m trying to decide something, I like to list the pros and cons first.  I thought this might be a great way to show the benefits of using Shores for out-of-season storage.
Storing Clothes at Home
Storing Clothes at Shores
Before cleaning all my clothes, I first must check to see if any buttons, hems, or seams need to be repaired.  Then I actually have to do the repairs.
Point out any clothing repairs, and Shores will take care of them for me.
I have to make sure all garments are clean before putting them away.
Shores cleans all items dropped off for storage.
I must find proper containers, pack my clothes away, and then find a temperature appropriate, dry place to put my clothes for the season.
Shores folds and boxes all my clothes for one season free of charge.  All I have to do is pay for the cost of the cleaning.
If moths or insects attack my clothes, I have to pay for repairs, if possible, or more likely replacements.
Shores will insure all my items, based on my declared value.
When I pull my items out of storage, I may have to rewash some items, but I will definitely have to press and freshen them up.
If I call Shores a week before I want my things, they will freshen, steam, press, and have them ready for pick up.

Storing clothes and household items is a chore and can be a challenge, especially if you are short on storage space.  Most basements and attics, unless they are finished, temperature controlled, and free from moisture, are not appropriates spaces for clothing storage.  Storing items in these areas could lead to mold and mildew problems or issues with insects.
If you find yourself struggling with clothing storage, call one of our three locations, and we will be happy to schedule an appointment for you to come by and drop off your things.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Cleaning and Restoring Leather Purses and Handbags

My parents really like to purchase things for my sister, my niece, and me that we wouldn’t normally buy on our own.  A number of years ago, my sister and niece both asked for designer handbags for Christmas, and my mom had so much fun shopping and purchasing their bags, and they have really enjoyed carrying those bags, that a new tradition began where my parents bought them an expensive bag every Christmas and birthday.

Two years ago, my mom began encouraging me to pick out a designer bag, and for a while I resisted.  I tended to think of handbags as mostly disposable, carrying a purse for one or two seasons, and then donating it to The Salvation Army or Goodwill once it served my purpose.  But ultimately, I relented, mostly to make my mom happy, and now I must admit that I have three designer bags, with my favorite being a red Dooney & Bourke bag that I am currently carrying.

Today, I look at my collection of bags, and purses in general, differently.  I did not donate the black Michael Kors purse that I received last Christmas; instead, it is upstairs in the guest room closet, in a cloth bag, waiting for me to carry it again.  Why? There’s a real difference in the quality.  After carrying it for 5 months, the bag held its shape nicely, has so many terrific features, and still looks like new.

But what if it didn’t still look like new?  Would I have gotten rid of it or stuck it in a closet to never use again?  No, that’s where Shores comes in.  If during the 5 months that I carried it, it got an ink mark, a lipstick stain, a scratch, the stitching came loose, or anything else that goes along with carrying it daily, I would have just contacted Brian.  Shores has been caring for purses and handbags for years and not only has the ability to work on them in house but also has access to top fabric, suede, leather, PVC, or any combination of materials restoration experts that can take a tired, blemished, or damaged handbag and return it to its former beauty.  

If you have a designer bag that needs a bit of attention, stop by one of our three locations and let Brian, David, or Mike take a look at it.  It’s so rare that a bag is beyond restoration, and our handbag specialists wouldn’t want you to get rid of something that has the potential to be restored to its original condition and more importantly, allow you to enjoy it for years to come.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How Much Does It Cost to Have My Wedding Gown Professionally Cleaned?

How long did you spend selecting your perfect wedding dress?  The answer always varies, but it takes most brides a couple of months to find the one, and when you did, it was probably one of the best days of your life.  Your wedding dress is not just a dress for a day, most likely you’ve been dreaming of this day and your gown since you were a little girl.  No, it’s not just a dress for a day, it’s a symbol for all of those to come.  Remember you’re going to look back at those photographs for the rest of your life.  That’s why the choice and selection of the perfect gown was so important.

So the big question now is what to do with it.  You may hope that a younger sister or perhaps even a daughter will someday wear your gown or you may want to hold onto it for sentimental reasons. In some cases, selling the dress to be a part of another bride’s dream day makes the most sense.  Whatever your decision, your wedding gown is a treasured keepsake that, if properly cleaned and preserved, can last for years to come.  Ideally you should have your gown cleaned and preserved within a few weeks of your wedding.

The question I am asked the most is: How much does it cost to clean and preserve a wedding gown?  The short answer is: It depends.  But I will try to dissect the market to help you make sense of the price points. 

There are generally two ways to have your gown cleaned and preserved: by mail or outsourced to a wholesale gown cleaning factory, or individually cleaned and preserved by a specialist.  Each method differs and have varying pricing. 

The factory option.  The price range for this service is between $95-$150.  Typically, you order a box that you will place your gown into and then send to the gown factory.  I like to compare this option to any big box operation; it’s a Wal-mart style process: big facility with a lot of automation and very little individual attention to detail and service.  Your gown’s safety will not be guaranteed nor will you receive a preservation guarantee against yellowing and brown spots.

Individual cleaning.  Having your gown hand-cleaned by a specialist on-site, while more expensive, has many advantages over your gown being sent to a factory.  True gown preservationists use museum quality materials and processes to ensure a flawless final product.  Many have special rooms with light, dust and humidity controls where the gowns are preserved buy technicians clad in lab coats and gloves.  Shores process includes a consultation and hand-cleaning by a certified gown specialist, giving the dress owner the opportunity to have the cleaned dress “revealed” before we proceed with the preservation.  Once we have approval, we perform an anti-sugar treatment to insure all stains that could cause yellowing and brown spots in the future have been removed. Then your gown is wrapped in freshly laundered muslin, surrounded with acid free tissue paper, and place in an acid free and pH neutral container.  Specialists will guarantee your gown's safety and provide you with a preservation guarantee against yellowing and brown spots.  Pricing for this type of service can range anywhere between $300-$600, with an average cost for cleaning and preservation falling near $450 depending on your gown.  Pricing can also vary slightly depending on the market you are in.

There are certain factors that cause the price of cleaning and preservation to go up.  Fabric content: Natural fibers such as silk, require a different level of expertise and time when it comes to stain removal and cleaning.  Trim and construction: intricate trim and cuttings need to be protected and sometimes removed and replaced to ensure against damage which increases the labor involved in cleaning a gown.   Damage in need of repair will incur alteration charges.  Significant staining could incur restoration charges.  In general, a silk couture gown will be on the higher side of average and a synthetic gown from a retailer like David’s Bridal would be on the lower side of average to clean and preserve.
There are also ways to reduce the cost of cleaning and preservation.  The Association of Wedding Gown Specialists offers a $35 off coupon good at any affiliate location.  Some cleaners offer packages that can be purchased that include gown services prior to the wedding and the preservation afterwards at a discount. For instance, if Shores performs alterations or pre-wedding cleaning, we traditionally discount the preservation charge for our customer.  Another interesting trend is to request gift certificates for gown preservation as a shower/wedding gift.  But I have seen that by far the most effective way to get your wedding dress preserved at a discount and sometimes even for free is to leave it at your parent’s house after the wedding.  Sooner or later they get the hint.

Whichever course you choose, remember to ask questions and make sure you feel comfortable and confident with the person and company you are trusting with your most treasured memory.  Click here if you would be interested in a free consultation with one of our specialists and fill out a request, or contact us at 1-844-My-1-Gown anytime to speak with the specialist on-call.  If you are not located near one of our facilities but would like to have your gown cleaned and preserved by one of our specialists, click here for more info.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Purchasing High-Quality Dress Shirts

There is such a big difference between the way a custom-made dress shirt looks and holds up when compared to mainstream brands.  Obviously, you pay a premium for custom-made dress shirts, but because they are custom-made for you, they fit properly.  Plus, no corners are cut.  For instance, many mass-manufactured dress shirts use adhesive around the seams of the pockets, collar, and cuffs, and because the adhesive weakens over time, the shirt simply won’t last as long or look as crisp as a custom-made dress shirt. 

So, you are in the market for some custom-made dress shirts, but what do you look for?  Below are the areas to focus on as you shop for your perfect shirt…and shirt maker.   

Collar – A quality collar will be properly proportioned, with straight and clean stitching along the edges, and include removable collar stays. 

Buttons and Button Holes – There are several things to check here.  First, buttons come in a variety of sizes and styles; however, if “Mother of Pearl” buttons are on the shirt, that indicates quality.  Whatever button is used, make sure buttons are firmly attached to the shirt, using the X method of sewing.  In addition, buttons that are shanked also indicate a certain level of detail.  Shanking is when another thread is wrapped around the threads that hold the button to the shirt, causing the buttons to stand out a bit.  But more than the button itself, high-quality dress shirts have cleanly finished button holes with no signs of fraying.  Check for a small button at the sleeve placket, the area of the sleeve that opens when the cuff is unbuttoned.  This button is import because it prevents the sleeve from hanging open.  Finally, a high-quality dress shirt will come with spare buttons attached to the shirt.

Stitching – Overall, the stitching should be straight or smoothly follow the curves of the shirt with at least 18 stitches per inch.  Single needle side seam stitching along the sides of the shirt and the bottom of the sleeves give the shirt a tight seam and a tapered look.  Check for reinforcement along the bottom of the side seams to keep the shirt from ripping or tearing.  Finally, check the stitching at the cuffs, ensuring they have pointed corners and straight stitches. 

Split Yoke – The yoke is the panel of fabric that runs across the shoulders, just behind the collar. A split yoke is where the yoke is made of two different pieces of fabric, and a true split will have two pieces of fabric cut at an angle.  When fabric is cut on an angle, it stretches more giving a greater range of motion.

Fabric – While 100% heavy weight premium cotton shirts finish the best, we find that fabric is very much a personal preference.  Choose what you like, but know that the quality of the fabric impacts the overall quality of the shirt.  If you want a shirt with some sort of pattern, be sure that the pattern matches at the center back of the split yoke, along the front of the shirt, and at the pocket.  If the pattern doesn’t match properly, the shirt will look sloppy. 

We realize that’s a whole lot of information to take into consideration for one dress shirt, but believe us when we say, you really can see the difference in quality.  If you’d like to get started, we are happy to share that many of our customers like these brands – Tom James, Richard Bennett, Charles Trywitt, and Brooks Brothers.  Once you purchase a high-quality shirt, keep it in great shape by laundering it regularly.  If you’d like to stop by one of our locations to examine a custom-made shirt or to just ask questions, please do.  We are happy to help.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Restoring Two Vintage Wedding Gowns

We always tell brides to have their gowns cleaned and preserved as soon as possible after the ceremony because the longer you let spills and stains sit on your garments, the less likely it is that a professional dry cleaner will be able to remove them.  Sadly, we didn’t know as much back in 1974 or 1946 as we do today, but luckily for Margaret Rehder, we are as good as we say we are.
Mrs. Rehder's Dress before and after
In 1974, Margaret wore this gown she purchased from Montaldo’s in Winston-Salem to marry her husband.  “It worked,” she said, “because I’m still happily married 42 years later.”  After her wedding, she placed the gown back in the Montaldo’s bag and stored it away.  The gown has moved around with them as they’ve changed homes, and most recently, it has been living in the same bag in their attic.

Margaret dropped her bridal gown, along with one that her mother had worn in 1946, off at our Shores location in Winston-Salem.  Brian, the General Manager of Shores, said that Margaret’s gown was no problem to clean and restore, but her mother’s gown was a completely different story.

Her mother’s gown, after being worn in 1946, was placed in an old electric blanket box without being cleaned or preserved.  The gown was made of Chantilly lace and the fibers were completely dried out.  Placing it in a machine or subjecting it to the smallest amount of agitation would cause it to completely fall apart.  So, David, Manager of the Shores in High Point, spent three days cleaning it by hand.  While the dress could not be returned to its original condition, it has been reconditioned and restored to its former beauty.

Mrs. Rehder's mother's dress before and after cleaning and preservation

Even though the dress looks beautiful, it cannot be worn again, and this very reason is why we are so adamant about providing the proper care for wedding gowns as soon as the ceremony is over.  If you have a wedding gown that’s been sitting in your closet untouched for far too long, drop it by one of our locations so that our gown experts can restore it to its former beauty.  Also, feel free to contact us with questions about our preservation process.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Starch and Dress Shirts

Three pressed, starched and laundered dress shirts
When you drop off your dress shirts to be laundered, we always ask if you’d like them to be starched.  If you do, we separate them from those that aren’t going to receive starch, both batches are laundered according to specifications with the shirts receiving starch getting it through a separate cycle, then all shirts meet back up at the finishing department.  But what exactly is starch and what purpose does it serve?

Laundry starch is a vegetable byproduct that’s dried and then mixed with water to create a sticky liquid.  Shirts that are starched, if they are 100% cotton, keep their form longer and are less likely to develop wrinkles.  We specify 100% cotton because they are the only shirts that can be heavily starched; polyester, a man-made synthetic fiber, will not absorb or hold starch the way 100% cotton will.  Starch cannot bind with polyester fibers so you will never get a stiff shirt.

Of course, with everything there are both pros and cons and adding starch to shirts is no exception.

Pro - Starch adds a layer of protection to dress shirts, allowing them to better tolerate rubbing from other flat surfaces.

Con - Starch stiffens fibers, making shirts less flexible, so it lowers the shirt’s ability to withstand bending, twisting, and flexing.

Pro - Tensile strength is the measure of how well fabrics and fibers resist breaking under tension.  The Drycleaning & Laundry Institute conducted a study and found that shirts with medium starch and no starch had similar tensile strength.

Con - However, after being laundered 10 times, the tensile strength on no starch shirts was 29% higher than the shirts with heavy starch.  Heavy starch can decrease the tensile strength of fabrics by increasing its rigidity.

Pro - Starched shirts tend to stay whiter and brighter, maintain a crisper look, and resist staining.

Con – The main purpose of adding starch is to create a stiffness to the fabric; this in turn creates a problem with fiber flexibility, and this lack of flexibility causes the fabric to snap rather than give when strained.

When it comes to starch or no starch, we find that it comes down to personal preference; there’s no right or wrong answer here.  At Shores, we are proud of our Platinum Shirt Laundry and Silver Shirt Services Laundry services, and we know whatever you choose, you’ll be happy with the shirt results from Shores Fine Dry Cleaning.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Magnolias of Madison

Allison Drake opened Magnolias of Madison in March as sort of an homage to her late mother.  “My mom had a bridal boutique in Eden for 30 years,” Allison explained.  “She loved her dresses, so I opened Magnolias in her honor.”
Sadly, on May 31, flood waters ravaged her business.  “I had just moved the prom dress collection out of our space and moved in 30 new bridal gowns,” said Allison.  “When I arrived at the store after the rain, I was in shock and absolutely devastated.  My inventory was ruined, and I had no flood insurance.  Given our location, I never thought I’d need it.”  But because of storm drain issues, many businesses in Madison had to deal with the same sort of issues.

Instead of giving up, Allison did some research and decided to call Shores.  “I’d heard of Shores, especially the Winston-Salem location, and their great reputation,” Allison shared.  “Then I did some research, discovered their certification, and learned that they really do know what they are doing.”

Allison began working with David King, the manager of our High Point location and our gown expert extraordinaire, and today she has a completely different outlook on things.  To date, David and his staff have restored and returned almost all the gowns, and Allison is looking forward to a grand re-opening at her new location, 101 West Academy Street in Madison, Labor Day weekend.  Their new location is a home, built in 1890, that is on the National Registry.  It boasts much more space than her prior location, has great visibility, and will allow Allison to showcase the gowns.  “I’m so grateful that I called Shores, and that they were willing to help,” shared Allison.  “Perhaps the silver lining in all of this is that we have a better location, and we got to work with some terrific people.”

Shores is equally as pleased with the results.  “It was a slow process,” said David, “but in the end, I’m so excited we were able to help her.”  To clean the gowns, David and his team, working on a couple dresses at a time, soaked the bottom two feet of each gown in a gentle cleansing solution, then one-by-one, they hand cleaned the bottom of each dress using the greatest of care.  “The results were amazing,” exclaimed Allison, “I think they look even better than they did before.”  Below are a few before and after photos so that you can see what a remarkable job David and his team did.

The first dresses hem before cleaning

A lacier dresses hem before cleaning

Soiled Wedding Dress Hem number three


The first wedding dress. stainless after cleaning
A second wedding dress after Shore's professional gown cleaning
The third dress, cleaned by shore's and now stainless
There’s a reason why folks like Allison call on Shores; since 1948, Shores has had reputation of providing quality and caring service to all their clientele.  To learn more about Shores, visit our website or check us out on Facebook.