Virus Diaries: Moose Cleaners Cuts Hours But Keeps Cleaning

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Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of short features on small businesses responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.)

Moose Cleaners lost more than half its business in a week’s time, and it’s reduced hours of operation to cope with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It is more than I had anticipated,” Owner Joe Veiga told Arkansas Business. “The last couple of days have been quite a bit slower than normal. I expected some loss of business, but it’s been pretty startling.”

Moose is a dry cleaning chain that’s been in business since 1995. It has 41 employees and eight locations in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood and Maumelle.

Starting Monday, those locations will be open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., instead of from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Also starting Monday, pieces will be cleaned three days a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday — instead of five days a week, resulting in a two-day turnaround. 

“We had a meeting with employees, and everybody is in agreement that it’d be better to cut everybody’s hours versus letting some people go,” Veiga said. “Unfortunately, I’m not the only one in that predicament.” 

One measure of how the business does is how many pieces it cleans. On Monday through Wednesday of last week, it cleaned 8,200 pieces. This week, for the same period of time, it cleaned 3,600 pieces.

Moose Cleaners has “had quite a hard time finding cleaning supplies,” Veiga said, but employees are using Clorox wipes on counters after every customer interaction. Employees have disposable gloves and access to hand sanitizer as well.

But COVID-19 might not be all bad news for Moose Cleaners; people will still need their comforters cleaned, especially after they recover from the virus or are released from quarantine. Most washing machines aren’t made to handle comforters, Veiga said, but Moose Cleaners has the equipment to clean comforters and rid them of germs.

“That’s a silver lining there. Yeah, that’s what we’re hoping for,” he said, adding that his locations would be happy to accept comforters now.