Whether it's a threadbare concert T-shirt or an ivory christening gown handed down through generations, clothing embodies memories. For four generations, Liberto Cleaners (4814 Prytania St., 504-897-2161; www.libertocleaners.com), a family-owned and -operated dry-cleaning business, has helped preserve these cherished garments.
Ignatius Liberto, Theresa Meteye and Walter Meteye opened Key Stone Cleaners in 1932. In 1947, Ignatius Liberto purchased a new store on Willow Street. The business was dubbed Liberto Cleaners when J.B. and Patsy Liberto bought it in 1962. They acquired the current Prytania Street location in 1987 and passed the reins to employees (and current owners) Mary Pat and John Walter in 1999.
Today, the Walters and their daughter, Lauren VanCamp, strive to treat customers and their garments with respect and care. The small business has grown to include 30 employees, two advanced dry-cleaning machines, two washing machines, a wet-cleaning machine, 16 pressing and finishing stations, a pre-spotting station and a hand-cleaning station. These resources allow the staff to treat every garment with detail-oriented service, whether erasing splotches of tomato sauce from a chef's jacket or pre-treating a doctor's lab coat.
Liberto Cleaners looks to the future by utilizing state-of-the-art, eco-friendly practices. "We try to be the forerunner of our industry in our efforts to be green," VanCamp says. "As new methods and practices arise, we try to implement them wherever possible. Being earth-friendly is an ideology I practice in my everyday life, and my business reflects my feeling and belief."
The earth-conscious efforts include using mild, biodegradable detergents and solvents, and the staff reuses materials whenever possible. "Our customers may bring back their hangers for recycling as well as their [polyethylene] bags," VanCamp says.
After customers drop off used polyethylene garment bags, Fabriclean Supply, which provides Liberto Cleaners with the bags, picks them up and sends them to be recycled into new items such as children's outdoor play sets and fencing. Customers have the option to purchase reusable bags for clean items instead of using polyethylene bags.
VanCamp says the company's delivery service is an efficient, eco-friendly way for customers to get their clothes back. "In another effort to be green, hoping to reduce everyone's carbon footprint ... we offer pickup and delivery services to most of Uptown, the upper and lower Garden District, Old Metairie and Lakeview," VanCamp says, adding that Liberto always is looking to expand its services.