[EDITOR'S NOTE — Difference Makers articles share stories of the local heroes making a difference during the extraordinary times of the COVID-19 pandemic.]
BOARDMAN — LaFrance Cleaners recently received an outpouring of community praise for offering free dry cleaning services to unemployed people going to a job interview.
Facebook user Nate Bowles shared a photo of LaFrance Cleaners in Boardman’s store with a sign reading “If you are unemployed and need an outfit for an interview, we will clean it for free.”
The Facebook post has received nearly 1,500 shares since last Sunday.
LaFrance Cleaners owner Stephen Weiss said although the service gained social media traction within the last week, the store has provided this service since the Great Recession of 2008.
According to Weiss, the COVID-19 pandemic was an opportunity to reintroduce customers to the service.
“In the beginning of May, we saw as we kind of got back open and people were struggling, we thought, ‘You know, the way we’ve done things in the past, [there’s] probably a lot of people that this might benefit them because people were struggling with the Coronavirus,’” he said.
Weiss said LaFrance promoted the service on social media then but was delighted at the recent response on social media.
“It blew my mind,” he said. “We do social media but I’ve never seen anything like that, and I’m glad it’s for something good.”
“When I found out about [the Facebook post], I started getting calls, and it was good,” he added. “We've been a part of the community for a long time, and it's something that we can do to help.”
LaFrance Cleaners, 721 Boardman-Canfield Road and 2607 Glenwood Ave., has been in business for 75 in the Mahoning Valley. Weiss said his family has owned the business since 1945.
Weiss told Mahoning Matters that LaFrance Cleaners plans to offer the service “as long as people need it.”
“Our deal is, if someone's going on an interview that needs to look good and can't afford it, you know, appearance is a big part of presentation whether they're meeting on zoom or in person.
Weiss added that the service is provided “no questions asked.
“We don't ask anything,” Weiss said. “We assume that people are telling the truth. If they bring in what they need — suits, or a dress or a shirt — and whatever it is, we'll do it for [them].”