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One-price cleaners expands in suburbs
By Kim Mikus | Daily Herald Columnist

Amjad Khan is the manager of the newest CD One Price Cleaners located next to 5 Guys Hamburgers on Route 21 in Libertyville.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

CD One Price Cleaners, a chain growing in the suburban market, charges one price for each garment that is dry cleaned.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Amjad Khan is the manager of the newest CD One Price Cleaners where the same price is charged for each garment laundered or dry cleaned.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

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Published: 8/28/2010 12:01 AM

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CD One Price Cleaners is making a growth push in the suburban market based on its philosophy of consistent upfront pricing.

With 31 stores in the Chicago market, the company charges $2.49 for each garment that is dry-cleaned, from a women's silk shirt to a men's winter coat. The company charges $1.29 for each laundered item.

"We have a one price philosophy," said COO Mike Corrao of Barrington Hills. He added that the company does not charge more for women's clothing, as many competitors do. "We believe in equality," he said.

The main reason the growing chain is able to offer lower prices is because it specializes on only garments. They do not clean leather, suede, fur or home goods such as curtains or down comforters, said Doug Simon, the company's marketing director.

The process is less expensive because their state-of-the-art-equipment, which customers can view, operates much like an assembly line, where dials don't have to be switched and the machines don't have to be reset.

"We're garment specialists," Simon said.

The prices are lower because of the volume the stores handle. "We dry clean 100 garments every 30 minutes," Corrao said.

Based on an outside research group, customers find that for an average basket of clothes, their bill will be 65 percent less at CD One Price Cleaners than at other dry cleaners, Simon said. Competitors charge an average of $15.62 to have a men's long winter coat cleaned compared with the $2.49 price, he said. The competitor's price for a sweater is $4.24.

The latest store in the chain opened less than a month ago in Libertyville at 153 N. Milwaukee Ave. The shop joins others in Palatine, Hanover Park, Naperville, Arlington Heights, Crystal Lake, Lisle, Glen Ellyn, Downers Grove, Des Plaines and Lombard.

The company, based in Westchester, opened its first store in 2001 in Lincolnwood. The company grew slowly with franchising beginning in 2005.

"It's a slow growth company. We're not looking to explode the concept. We don't want to dilute the business," Corrao said. He added that the growth effort is now headed north toward Gurnee.

Despite the weak economy, franchising efforts are showing success and the customer base is growing, Corrao said. "Our average store does close to $1 million annually after two years of opening," he added.

Two brothers, Rafiq Karimi Jr., 45, and Rafiq Karimi Sr., 48, founded the concept after working in the dry cleaning business in Houston, Texas, for many years. They then tried a store in the Chicago market and decided to launch the concept here.

The brothers were born in Myanmar and immigrated to the United States before they started elementary school. Rafiq Jr. of Chicago, along with Corrao, run the day to day operations of the company. Corrao started with CD One Price Cleaners about five years as the concept started franchising. Before that he served as president and CEO of Gingiss Formalwear.

The CD in the name of the stores stands for Cleaners Depot, the former name of the company when it just started. "We wanted to integrate the old name into the new one," Simon said.

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