Owner’s sadness as one of Burton’s oldest stores closes

The owner of one of Burton’s oldest businesses has spoken of his sadness after his well-known store was permanently closed. Cherringtons Dry Cleaners had been based in the town’s market square for six decades before its recent closure.

Andrew Wolny started Cherringtons Dry Cleaners in 1961 and spent the next 61 years in the same Market Place premises before it closed last month. His son, Richard, who joined the business in 1991 and then took over after the death of his father in 1998, made the sad decision to close the business amid the cost of living crisis.

He cited rising gas and electricity prices as the business also suffered from the covid pandemic and recession. Mr Wolny said the business was also affected by the UK smoking ban, which meant customers were no longer bringing in their smoky clothes to be washed.

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But the introduction of Burton High Street’s infamous risers in 2008 also hit Cherrington’s business hard, he said. The bollards were put in place to reduce traffic while allowing buses and commercial vehicles to pass.

However, other motorists would follow behind the buses and their vehicle would be “impaled” when the bollard rose. Mr. Wolny explained: “Within six years of introducing the kiosks, we lost 80% of our store revenue.

“Our customers went from 320 a week to 90. We had parking, but people were put off by stories of damaged vehicles.”

Business was so bad that in 2015 Mr Wolny’s mother Glenys traveled to London to pawn £11,000 worth of jewellery. She won £3,000, which was used to pay the bills.

When covid hit in 2020, Mr Wolny said: “We were keeping our heads above water before covid but the government had allowed us to open but no one was going out so we had no business. “

Cherringtons was the brainchild of Mr Wolny’s father, Andrew. Born in Poland, he fought in World War II.

Andrew Wolny set up Cherringtons after staying in the UK after the end of World War II.

He was later shot and the war ended while he was recovering in Scotland and asked if he wanted to stay in the UK. Initially working for a valet service, Mr. Wolny eventually started his own laundry services business.

He named it Cherringtons after a business meeting at what his son believes is called Cherrington House, Wolverhampton. After searching for suitable premises for his new business, Mr Wolny settled into a unit in Market Place, Burton.

The Cherringtons founder met future wife Glenys at a dance, later welcoming two children. At the time, there were five other dry cleaning companies in Burton.

For a time Cherringtons was a family affair, with Mr Wolny Senior at the helm, his wife managing the accounts and his son and daughter working alongside him. After a stint in the army in Germany, Mr. Wolny Junior returned to the premises he took over after the death of his father in 1998.

Ms Wolny continued accounting until her death in 2019. At its peak, Cherringtons was seeing 320 clients a week in its own right, alongside 450 agency referrals. These sites still exist, having been taken over by Betzy’s cleanup service.

Asked how many staff he thought Cherrington had employed over his 61 years, Mr Wolny said: “We would have enough staff to fill the market. We were probably one of the oldest established companies by Burton.

“There was a lot of sadness from customers. Many said ‘I remember coming with my mum and dad’.

“It’s sad and not something we wanted to see happen, but life goes on. We had a good run.”

Cherringtons closed in April.

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