Cleaner presses forward with new ownership
LVN Editor Emeritus
Fallon was treated to a Christmas miracle.
Just when it appeared Crystal Cleaners was preparing to close its doors after 23 years in business, a local buyer stepped in at the last minute and offered to purchase the city’s only dry cleaners. Ryan and Cherilee Sorensen saw a Facebook post announcing the closure, but instead of moving on to another posting, Ryan Sorensen called Crystal Wickware, the longtime proprietor and Fallon native, to inquire about the business.
“I talked to Ryan the first time on Christmas Eve,” Wickware said. “I had it up for sale for two years, and we had several people who were interested.”
Wickware said she had received moderate interest, but she also had a buyer who wanted to purchase the cleaners. On Dec. 12, however, Wickware said he backed out.
“My family and I got together, and we decided that I just needed to close,” Wickware said.
Once the word got out Wickware was going to close the cleaners on the last day of 2018, she received eight inquiries and three offers.
“These people saw a need for the dry cleaners, and I am so very thankful,” she said. “This is much better option, and it will be better for the community,” she added.
Wickware said every initial inquiry for the first 18 months came out of town, but the businesses wanted to establish a drop-off and pick-up store.
Ryan remembers one of the first conversations he had with Cherilee after making an offer for Crystal Cleaners. Although they didn’t have the experience, he was optimistic.
“I think we can make this happen,” said Ryan Sorensen, a lifelong resident of Fallon who has experience in managing his family’s ranches.
From the time the Sorensens and Wickware closed the deal, Ryan obtained the needed state and local licenses to operate the businesses. On the day after New Year’s, he applied for a city business licenses. Details of the sale were not disclosed.
Both Ryan and Cherilee said they made a decision to keep Crystal Cleaners as the name because it’s a familiar business name that represents quality.
When Wickware opened her door 23 years ago, Fallon had four cleaners. She had worked in the business when she was younger but kept in contact with her former boss. After she decided to start her own dry cleaners, Wickware said he helped her ready the shop. When Crystal Cleaners opened, she had one employee and a part-time seamstress, Francie Lee. Over the years, the business grew to nine people including Wickware and two seamstresses. Lee had been a seamstress at Naval Air Station Fallon for five years before joining Wickware.
The employees also received a Christmas present. The Sorensens said they are retaining the dry-cleaning staff.
For the past 23 years, Wickware said she enjoyed the business and working with the customers. Having a full-time seamstress with years of experience also drew in the customers, and for the past 16 years, Wickware also embroidered such items as Greenwave apparel, flight suits, holiday sweaters and day-of-the-week towels.
“We tried to make our customers feel like family, and we tried to give what they wanted,” she said.
Crystal Cleaners also provides service for the military personnel assigned to Naval Air Station Fallon, and Wickware said many first responders also drop off their uniforms. She said many customers who wear western clothes bring in their cowboy shirts and jeans to be laundered.
Wickware, who graduated from Churchill County High School in 1970, said the 12-hour days and weekly work schedule were taking their toll. A doting grandmother, Wickware said she wants to spend more time with her family and especially her 10-month-old grandson
“I wanted to step back and take more time to smell the roses,” she said.
Although she is stepping away from the long days and weeks, she and Lee will open up a small business on Auction Road where Wickware will continue her embroidery, and Lee will provide alterations and sewing. Sometime in mid-January, they hope to open their shop at 960 Auction Road. If people have questions, Wickware said they may call Lee at 775-427-2299.
The cleaner’s phone number will also remain the same at 775-423-4343, and the weekday hours are 7:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The cleaners, which has been a yearly winner in the Best of Fallon, is located at 1050 S. Allen Road.