In this day and age, it’s hard to find a small business that’s been around for 70 years—let alone one that has been run for that long by the same family.
The dry cleaning business Broadway Cleaners, 1681 Main St. in Redwood City, first opened its doors in 1938, a whopping 73 years ago. It was started by the Krantzes and their extended family, and has remained in family hands ever since.
Today, the Krantzes are finally ready to retire, after more than seven decades of running the family business, and they couldn’t think of a better family to hand it over to than the Russells, who have been close family friends for 25 years.
“Our families are good friends,” said Neil Krantz, whose grandfather helped open the business with his brother-in-law in 1938.
“We’ve known them for years,” said Jim Russell, who is the store’s new owner along with his wife, Marty. “They’re good people.”
The Russells are no strangers to the dry cleaning business—three generations of both Jim’s and Marty’s families have worked in the industry. In fact, Marty Russell previously served as the president of the California Dry Cleaners Association, and currently serves on the board of directors.
The Russells are natives to the area, having run dry cleaning businesses up and down the peninsula, including in Belmont, San Mateo and Foster City. They currently divide their time between their house in the Stockton/Lodi area, and an apartment in Redwood City. They previously owned a home on Garden Street in Redwood City for many years as well.
“We’ve been around the area for a long time,” said Jim.
Ever involved in the local communities, Marty has served as the president of the Better Business Bureau of San Mateo, and several local chambers of commerce.
The Russells themselves had retired not too long ago, selling off their last dry cleaning business and buying their Stockton/Lodi-area home. However, once they finally convinced their good friends the Krantzes to retire after so many years in business, they decided it was worth coming out of retirement to take over Broadway Cleaners and help keep the business going, in familiar hands.
“We had several cleaners in the Bay Area for 20 years, and we had sold out and kind of retired, but now we’re back,” Jim said with a small laugh. “We’ve been out of the business and industry for about seven years. But we finally convinced Ed and Irene [Krantz] to retire.
Customers will still see Neil Krantz around the store frequently, though—Neil has agreed to stay on and continue working in drapery cleaning.
“I’m still enjoying what I’m doing,” he said.
Jim said, it’s rare and comforting to see a business not only survive for so long, but pass down through so many generations of a single family. Now, Broadway Cleaners will be kept alive through good friends.
“It’s very unique to find a small business like this, where it’s been run by family for over 70 years,” Jim said. “Even the people that work here, that aren’t family, have been here for more than 20 years. That’s really something.”
Broadway Cleaners, 1681 Main St., offers a number of varied services, including dry cleaning and laundry, window treatments and other household services. For more information, call 650-368-0862 or visit www.broadwaycleaners.net.