Mr. Clean
Laundry entrepreneur does it all -- short of magic

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 29/97) - He receives stuffed teddy bears and backpacks, wedding gowns, miners' coveralls, sleeping bags, canvas tents -- and during hunting season -- clothing covered with blood.

He's Dennis Urschel, owner and manager of Magic Touch Dry Cleaning and Laundry.

He also receives drapes, leathers and suedes.

"If we can't do it, we have people who subcontract," he says of his drapery customers.

And for leathers and suedes, "we ship to Edmonton. No one in the NWT does it."

Urschel's day usually starts at around 7:30 a.m., opening about a half hour later. He loads a van and starts the mostly commercial deliveries. He also takes clean clothes to people who are housebound on his delivery rounds.

His three employees look after the cleaning business, while he delivers for the next few hours. "We deliver to work or home," he says.

"We do valet for hotels. The pickup is at 9:30 a.m. and take the clothes back before 5 p.m.," he says. "Sometimes I eat lunch on the road."

Afternoons, Urschel washes and dries coveralls, checking them for repairs. He also washes, dries and rolls up entrance mats for delivery.

Urschel normally finishes his day midway into the supper hour.

The manager works Monday to Friday. On Saturdays, the business is open, but normally not for cleaning -- just for taking clothes in or dispensing them.

"Probably the most difficult thing is dealing with the people as far as making them aware -- just because there's a stain, drycleaning may not take it out. People think drycleaning is a miracle when they can't get the stain out in the wash, but that's not the case."

The two worst stains are mustard and curry, he says. "It's almost like a dye in itself."

A sign posted at the business asks customers to point out stains when they drop off their clothes.

"We put an article of clothing over our spotting board to check for stains," he says.

With an ink stain on silk, for example, there's a 75 per cent chance it will come out and a 25 per cent change it'll take the color of the garment out, he says.

Then he has a choice to leave the stain in or take the color out.

The company had the BHP contract when it first started Koala Camp. It just finished the contract when the camp expanded.

Magic Touch also does other mining camps and out-of-town orders.

"Out of towners send by mail or air, with a little note with instruction how to send it back -- mostly by credit card or COD," he says. "When it's mailed it, we try to process it the next day so we can get it back to the communities."