Valetor Deluxe Cleaners
A History of Valetor Deluxe Cleaners and Dyers in Poughkeepsie New York
The founding of Valetor Deluxe was a direct result of the decision by U.S. Hoffman Machinery Corporation to close their Poughkeepsie Plant and consolidate all their manufacturing of commercial/industrial dry cleaning/laundry machinery in Syracuse NY which was their main facility.
The sole Plant Manager of the Poughkeepsie Plant from 1936-1947, Peter H. Prenting, an engineer by profession, decided that with a family in Poughkeepsie, he did not wish to relocate. Rather, he, and the family, decided that, instead of producing machinery for the dry-cleaning industry, he, and they, would enter the industry. Plans were developed, and Valetor Deluxe opened at 254 Hooker Avenue, opposite the Friend’s (Quaker) Church in April, 1948.
The business model followed to set itself apart from some 35 other dry-cleaning establishments in Poughkeepsie at the time was to provide a higher quality of service. This meant such things as doing a better job in the cleaning process, taking more time to produce quality finishing (pressing), removing and replacing buttons that might be damaged in the process, replacing lost or broken buttons on all garments, doing minor repairs; all at no additional charge for the item. Since these costs had to be covered, however, prices were set slightly higher than other cleaners, and a few customers did send their better clothes to Valetor and perhaps lesser value items to others.
It should be noted that many of the 35 competing cleaners were essentially storefront operations that took in clothes for cleaning and had the work done by, particularly, one other large wholesale cleaner at the time. There were only a handful of other small cleaners that did their own work. Valetor did not do any wholesale work for other cleaners until later years, and, then, only a few select ones. About ten years after its opening, it did do the dry cleaning for Poughkeepsie’s leading laundry.
In 1947, the business started with a store and two-story plant at the Hooker Avenue location. This Plant was expanded several times in subsequent years to enlarge the dry-cleaning room, add in plant carpet cleaning, shirt laundering operations and to simply take care of an expanding business.
Valetor was a full-service dry cleaner that ultimately provided not only dry cleaning, shirt laundering and carpet cleaning, but tailoring, invisible reweaving, in house leather glove and apparel cleaning and dying, wedding gown cleaning and preservation, fur cleaning and storage, upholstery cleaning, lampshade cleaning, and even the cleaning of car interiors. Besides on location carpet cleaning, the company also provided drapery take down and rehang service to residences and theaters. It was said that if it was made of fabric, Valetor could clean it.
Besides the Hooker Avenue Store and Plant, Valetor later operated a branch store on the corner of Main and Raymond Avenue in Arlington. In the 1950s, it also purchased Collegeview Cleaners, a storefront operation on Collegeview Avenue in Arlington. Though a small business, it enabled Valetor to become a major dry cleaner for students at Vassar College. Charlotte’s Hat and Dress Shop in Millbrook New York was an agency store for many years serving the Millbrook Area. Six truck routes serving much of Dutchess County and into nearby Connecticut brought work daily into the Hooker Avenue Plant, and the business was also the provider of same day dry cleaning service to the Poughkeepsie Inn, Nelson House and King’s Court hotels, IBM Homestead and a few local motels.
Valetor fairly quickly became the second largest dry-cleaning establishment in Dutchess County and typically employed about 20 full time people; more in busy seasons. The Prenting Family were all involved in the business from the outset. Mary Prenting, wife, was involved through much of the life of the Company. Daughter, Marta, worked part or full time for a couple years, and, son, Theodore (Ted) worked part time while in high school, subsequently studied at the National Institute of Dry Cleaning in Silver Spring, MD, and managed plant operations or sales for the business for a total of about five years.
When Peter Prenting passed away in May, 1963, son, Theodore, temporarily returned from his research position at IIT Research Institute, Chicago, and managed the business until it could be sold in May, 1964. The new owners were Isidor Haitkin and Abraham Marinoff, both from Long Island, who relocated to Poughkeepsie. They owned the business until May 1974, when the Hooker Avenue Plant and Store were damaged in a devastating fire. The business never reopened.
The foregoing is a firsthand account.
Poughkeepsie New York
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