Local dry cleaning biz becomes mask-maker to support staff, community

Local dry cleaning biz becomes mask-maker to support staff, community
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Great American Dry Cleaners swiftly shifted part of its business mask-making as part of a plan to keep his staff working and the community equipped with safety gear. (Photos contributed)

By Mike Kinney

Following the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, Greater American Dry Cleaners saw a drop in business, and also a need to support its employees and the community.

And so it swiftly shifted part of its business to become a maker of fabric masks in order to keep its staff employed and to provide needed protection to community organizations.

“We were seeing a drop in our production…and around that same time there was a shortage of masks in the area,” said Ankit Vakharia, a Richmond resident who operates locations in San Pablo and El Cerrito.

Great American Dry Cleaners has donated over 3,000 masks to benefit frontline workers and community organizations. In the meantime, the mask production, accomplished by a 10-employee rotation, has allowed staff to maintain hourly wages.

“We made some here for our team members,” Vakharia said. “Somebody put us in touch with the Belmont Senior Center and we made some masks for them there.”

The business has produced masks to donate to San Pablo first responders (via the San Pablo EDC); LifeLong Medical Center; the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office; El Cerrito police; Eastmont Wellness Center; and childcare centers.

For organizations needing donations of masks, or for customers looking to purchase them, you can place an order here or call the Great American Dry Cleaners at (510) 526-6844.

“Stay safe and stay healthy,” Vakharia said. “Help spread the word and support your local business.”