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Cleaning up in Central Arkansas.

Fashion Park Cleaners Claims One-Fifth Of The Cleaning Business In The Little Rock Metro Area

It started in 1948 with a small dry-cleaning plant in North Little Rock called Bleidt-Banks Cleaners.

Several decades and expansions later, Fashion Park Cleaners has four main operating plants and 12 pickup stations in the Little Rock metropolitan area.

Brooksher L. Banks, a third-generation dry cleaner, says the business began as a partnership between his father, Brooksher T. Banks, and his grandfather, L.G. Bleidt.

Fashion Park was one of the pioneers in the use of perchlorethelene, now a common cleaning solvent. The business also was among the first in the area to use plastic garment bags, to add a shirt laundry and to purchase pressing equipment for men's coats.

Banks joined the family business in 1977, but a dry-cleaning career wasn't what the accountant had in mind.

"Let's face it, our business isn't glamorous," he says. "Maybe I ended up with cleaning solvent in my veins."

Cleaning solvent?

Maybe.

A shrewd business instinct?

Definitely.

Fashion Park, which has 109 employees, claims about 20 percent of the Little Rock-North Little Rock dry-cleaning business. Since 1987, the company has doubled in size.

Banks says Fashion Park is the only Arkansas dry cleaner selected to attend the Varsity International Conference of Cleaners for the past six years.

"Varsity is the dry-cleaning industry's equivalent to a five-star rating for the hotel and restaurant industry," Banks says.

Banks doesn't take full credit for the company's success.

"The decisions fall on my shoulders, but I rely on |my father~ for advice," he says. "We discuss just about everything."

Brooksher L. Banks, 38, manages the business, but Brooksher T. Banks, 75, is anything but retired. Not only does he come to the office every day, he is on the board of the International Dry Cleaning Congress, a trade association.
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Title Annotation:Fashion Park Cleaners
Author:Harper, Kim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jan 20, 1992
Words:308
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