Mike Weisel had built up his dry cleaning business to four locations over 27 years—in Westport (two stores), Stamford and Trumbull—when he sold them off (“I decided that I didn’t want to do the retail dry cleaning anymore”).
Then in January 2015, the North Stamford resident launched a pickup and delivery cleaners service that covered Fairfield County, and something unusual stuck out as the new company—Pressing Matters—grew increasingly popular.
“My growth happened all in New Canaan,” Weisel said Monday afternoon from the floor of his new space at 16 Cross St., his son Josh and 9-year-old golden retriever Molson keeping standing by in the first-ever permanent location of Pressing Matters.
“I had stops in Greenwich, stops in Stamford. But majority of my stops were here. And it really just started growing. People kept coming up to me saying, ‘Hey, will you have a store again?’ and ‘Where can I drop clothes off if I miss you?’ and I would say, ‘We’ll come back.’ I felt like I was really missing a segment of the population.”
He’s got those people covered again, as of a soft-launch of Pressing Matters three weeks ago in one of the commercial spaces of one of New Canaan’s new and most desirable mixed-use buildings.
Weisel attributes much of his business’s popularity in town to word-of-mouth through a heavily used ‘New Canaan Moms’ group on Facebook. Asked why New Canaan is a good fit for him, Weisel said, “I like the market.”
“I like the smaller markets,” he told NewCanaanite.com. “I like the people who live in New Canaan. I like the vibe. I was in Westport for 25 years. Westport was more cosmopolitan. A lot of New Yorker-type clients. Here it’s more laid back. And it’s what I grew up with, because I grew up in North Stamford.”
A 1980 Westhill High School graduate who has lived in Stamford for more than 50 years, Weisel earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Syracuse University and started his professional life in radio advertising.
“I really wanted to have my own business so what happened was I did some research and found that I really liked the model of the dry cleaning business,” Weisel recalled. “Nobody wakes up and says, ‘I want to clean clothes for a living.’ But I liked the business model, it was more of an annuity, where you get and keep customers as long as you do the job right. They keep coming back, so there is a lot of repeat business, and no inventory involved.”
Weisel’s entrepreneurial spirit re-emerged with Pressing Matters, where he developed a mobile app and website for customers to schedule pickups, change orders, receive alerts, participate in a referral rewards program, communicate with him and get receipts.
“I wanted to kind of take the business to the next level,” he said. “Everybody was using the Internet and using digital, and dry cleaning wasn’t, so I was just trying to find ways we could.”
The service-oriented approach has resonated, particularly among New Canaanites, Weisel said.
Laura Budd of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce said the organization is “glad to see that Pressing Matters found a home in New Canaan.”
“We know they have been servicing the community for a few years and we are glad to see they have found a great location on Cross Street,” Budd said.
He enters a local market that includes New Canaan Cleaners on East Maple Street, Sanda’s on Pine Street and Village on Vitti.
Weisel’s commercial space, which offers ample on- and off-street parking, is a “drop shop,” he said, as the clothes themselves are transported and cleaned at his Norwalk plant—though that step doesn’t prevent Pressing Matters from offering same-day and next-day services.
Further, Weisel said, Pressing Matters is a “green dry cleaner.”
“Every dry cleaner should be ‘green and clean’ at this point, using proper solvents that are better, environmentally safe, they should be and we do,” Weisel said. “We take it a step further: We do not use plastic anymore. We use reusable garment bags. Customers get those. No more plastic. We also use all fashion hangers, no more wire hangers, with the exception of shirts. And we limit paper. You don’t get a receipt unless you want one. It gets emailed to you.”
Pressing Matters covers shirts, dry cleaning, tailoring, rugs, carpets, drapes and wedding gowns—here’s a full list of services. The new store is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.