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Rotundo's Dry Cleaning closes in Buffalo after more than 70 years of business

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jul 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-31 18:39:40-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Family owned and operated Rotundo's Laundry & Dry Cleaners closed on Wednesday after 72 years of business on W Ferry Street in Buffalo.

Gary Rotundo is the owner of the business. He took it over from his parents nearly 50 years ago.

"I came to help my parents, I was only going to be short term, it lasted since 1972 to now," Rotundo said.

Now Rotundo is retiring. For one customer who stopped in hoping to drop off clothes, a hug had to suffice. Other customers brought in champagne, cupcakes, or just stopped by to say goodbye. The customers are what everyone at Rotundo's said they would miss the most.

"Who could ask for more than being able to talk to every single one of your customers, and relate to them, and know their life history," Rotundo said. "That's just the way it was here."

It was a family affair all around. From the picture of Rotundo's mother who retired at 101 on the cash register, to Rotundo's daughter, Jenny Rockensuess, working the front counter.

"It's been a true blessing, to be able to work with your family, and we really work well together," Rockensuess said.

Americans clothing habits have shifted though since Rotundo's parents opened the business in 1947. The dry cleaning industry has shifted as a result. According to an IBISWorld Report, the dry cleaning industry brought in over $10 billion in revenue in 2008. Now that number is just over $9 billion.

Cindy Benintende, a 47 year long employee, said one thing, however, has stayed the same.

"Our loyal customers, we've had customers 20, 30, 40 years," she said. "And then some, a lot of them."

The business was filled with clothes waiting to be picked up just hours before closing. Rotundo said unclaimed clothes will be donated, it's the business's standard practice with clothes that are left for too long.

Joking with customers, Rotundo struggled to even utter the word retire. So why now?

"It's time, what more can I say," he said.

Everyone has to hang up their career sometime.