There is a dry cleaner closer to my apartment, but some pants I brought there once came back looking so tired I'm convinced they ship stuff to a sinister dry cleaning center where clothes are chemically scorched, ridiculed and beaten against rocks.
The man who runs Viking Cleaners approaches dry cleaning as a vocation. He is quiet and focused, because in the dry cleaning world expertise is best communicated through silence. Once I brought in a formal dress that had run in to some soy sauce. On pick up day it was spotless, and Mr. Dry Cleaner, in a sudden burst of subdued loquaciousness, carefully explained how he had removed the stain. I felt I had at last presented a job worthy of his wisdom. The cleaning equipment is right there in the shop, a true measure of quality, and clothes are always returned looking pristine and happy.
Grand-Wheeler Sinclair – Grand Avenue, Saint Paul
I love my auto-mechanic. They don’t overcharge or explain things in patronizing ways, which is nice of them considering my first response to any car issue is:
followed by pathetic Google research.
But the Sinclair guy always nods and says “we’ll take a look at it.” And then is like, “this is an emergency” or “well, it’s not an emergency.”
One time I was getting gas awhile after some repairs were done, and the owner said, “Hey, do you mind if I check it out again to see how things look?” which was very thoughtful. Then he said, “Yeah, I was surprised how well this ran, (my car is not really new because whatever with AC and brakes) you’ve obviously taken good care of it.”
So completely did this thoughtfulness and praise of car attentiveness win my heart, I almost brought them Christmas cookies. I didn’t because baking is messy, but was in the shop that December and the entire neighborhood had brought so many cookies the mechanics were just standing there eating them as fast as they could to clear off counter space.
My Sister’s Closet – Grand Avenue*, St Paul
Some consignment shops only stock very current things, which is not interesting because the stuff is usually a little generic, and you can just head for sale racks at the mall.
The woman who selects clothes at MSC - St Paul knows quality, brands, and is able to spot a good piece as fast as a cheetah. While the shop does have a good selection of 'normal' things, the approach to buying is also one of vision and bravura, a willingness to step out with freedom knowing the right buyer for a 1980s Thierry Mugler dress will come along.
This is what the world needs from resale shops if we're serious about society looking good for less. People must demand to try on things like Thierry Mugler dresses, and to walk out with a fur coat, 90s denim, something homemade, a vintage tweed blazer, and a scarf that's so cute one forgets one hasn’t seen a live puppy in weeks.
My Sister’s Closet has a semi-annual everything-is-50%-off sale, but that’s another day’s worth of emotional energy.
*There's also an Uptown location.