HAZLETON -- Empire Cleaners in Hazleton is closing its doors after 84 years in business.
Nicholas Triano owns Empire Cleaners. He's run the store since 1987, but the business opened long before that. His uncles started it in 1933.
"Our overhead costs exceeded our profits, and we're just no longer a profitable business," Triano said. "So, it's time for us to shut down.
The business is no longer cleaning clothes. They're only open so that customers can pick up the clothes they already have there.
Triano said his dry cleaning machines were built in the late 1950s. They are all manual and require a lot of labor. He said the industry has changed so much that it has become too expensive to replace the machines to keep up with demand.
"The whole industry is suffering," Triano said. "Throughout the whole US, the industry is struggling to continue. There are a lot of dry cleaners throughout the country that are closing up. It's just the high cost of operating."
Star Cleaners in Hazleton has been open almost as long as Empire Cleaners. Former owner Frank Molinaro is sad to hear about another dry cleaners closing.
"They were in before us," Molinaro said. "They were in since the 1930s. I knew the family that owned it. You feel bad to see something go out."
Now that Empire isn't dry cleaning clothes anymore, longtime customers like Lori Trovitch are having to find a new place. She's started going to Star Cleaners after 25 years with Empire.
"I can remember when the older guy was there and then his son and the children took it over and they used to give my kids lollipops when they were little," Trovitch said. "So, it is sad.
When Empire closes, Triano will sell the building and then start a second career in a nearby factory. He thanks all the customers he's had over the years.
"With the other cleaners in the area, the community will get used to it," Triano said. "I know change is difficult, but they'll assimilate into what we have in this town. Everybody will be fine."
Empire Cleaners will close on August 5.