After almost 60 years, Ross and Judy Lobsey have made the tough decision to sell Tamworth’s last remaining dry-cleaning business, Central Dry Cleaners, and look for greener pastures, or in this case golf courses.
Central Dry Cleaners was one of the first dry cleaners established in Tamworth back in 1942, when Ross’ mum and dad started the adventure, and after 82 years in the Lobsey family, the last 59 under the guidance of Ross and Judy, it’s time for a change.
“I’ve been here for nearly 60 years, and it was my mum and dad’s business before that, so I started halfway through 1963.” said Ross.
“My wife Judy has retired from her nursing profession, and I thought, well its time because the pointy end is getting pointier, so we decided to sell.”
“I’ve been here probably 5 years too long.” said Ross jokingly.
Ross puts the business’ success down to the luck of always having marvelous staff.
“We have always been so lucky to have our staff, and it shows- one lady, Robyn, was with us for 25 years, and our head lady Simone has been with us coming on 30 years, and I must admit, she is a far better dry cleaner than I am, an absolute wizard.”
“Our two-garment finishers, Julie and Gail, they would be two of the best garment finishers I have seen,”
“And John on the counter is great.”
Over Ross’ career he has met many amazing people and had amazing adventures, including a stint in London in 1970 working for Harrods Dry Cleaning and dying department for up to 4 months.
“I think I am the only person to be fired from Harrods.”
And after nearly a lifetime on the job, there are many memorable moments to reminisce on.
“There was a movie called ‘The Picture Show Man’ and there was a fight scene that didn’t go right, and they ended up in the water and then the mud and we spent nearly 24 hours trying to get the costumes ready for the next day’s shoot, so that was a bit of a task.” said Ross.
“My dad told me Buck Owens and the Buckaroos came to Tamworth in 1977 and dad served Buck Ownes at the counter at our shop in Peel Street and he had a jacket that was covered in diamonds and sequins and pearls and everything, and dad said to him ‘you don’t need a dry cleaner, you need a jeweler’, but we got it cleaned from him.”
“Dad was always a perfectionist, he would always say if a job was worth doing, it’s worth doing well, so we won’t let anything go out of this shop until we know that it is done to the best of our ability.”
A mantra the Lobsey’s have delivered on every time the open their doors.
Since announcing their retirement and sale of the business there has been an overwhelming response on social media, drumming up more than 760 likes and 135 comments of well wishes.
“We are over overwhelmed by the response that we have had, so that is so special.” said Ross.
“But after almost 60 years I am giving it away but I am leaving it with a very reliable team and I am sure the new owner will be as attentive as I have tried to be, but mixed emotions,”
“I will be around.”
Ross and Judy will be around until the end of this month as they transition the business over to the new owners, with their final half day to be Saturday 30th September.
“I’ve been told I can keep a key in case I want to come clean something.”
“I would like to thank the people of Tamworth for supporting us for so long and I hope you continue to use Central dry cleaners of Tamworth and our lovely staff here will make you feel welcome.
We’ve been told the new owner is a young Tamworth local who will retain the current team.
“We wanted to be confident with the person that we were selling to would keep the business going and be respectful and look after the business to the best of their ability.”
Meanwhile, we have some farewell messages from those working closest to Ross and Judy.
“Congratulations on the longevity of your involvement in the business and I hope you are as happy as Ross and Judy were operating this business and providing these services to Tamworth and Ross will be lost for a bit, this has been his baby for a long time, and he can’t play golf seven days a week like Judy.”
“Thank you for everything and wishing you both all the best.”
“Thank you very much for all of the years and the kindness and the care that you have shown us and I wish you all the best.”
“Thank you for being in the business for so long, keeping us all in a job and keeping the lights on, it has been a pleasure to work for the same someone for 29 years and you’ve been great bosses.”
“They’re hanging up the boots and moving on and best of luck.”
What is next for Ross and Judy?
They may have sold up and retired, but there is plenty of life left to live for Ross and Judy, both in and away from Tamworth.
“We’ve got our son, daughter in law and granddaughter in London, we will certainly visit them in the new year but there are a lot of good golf courses around to make me look even worse than I am now.” said Ross.
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