For more than a century, Forest City Laundry has steamed skirts, slacks and suits for hundreds of Middletown families. The 109-year-old Williams Street staple is now being pressed to close its doors because of the slumping economy.
Forest City has had several owners over the decades but the Stubbings’ family of Middletown has run the dry cleaning business for the last 40 years. Anita Stubbings’ late husband bought the business back in the 60’s and after his death nine years ago, Anita and her daughter Neva have been running things.
Things weren’t always this bad they say. During the 70’s, the business was doing so well that Neva’s father added 20 employees to keep up with demand. As the years passed, Neva says the dry cleaning business became 'a nickel and dime' business.
Recently, Neva and her mother Anita Stubbings have had a hard time keeping the business going. They say the high cost of oil prices last summer forced them to close their doors.
“The oil did a job on us last summer, definitely. We need oil for steam and for all of our machines and we have a lot of machines” said Stubbings.
Neva Stubbings has many wonderful childhood memories attached to the business as well. She said she remembers being 4-years old and “coming in with my mom to see my Dad at lunchtime. We were very close and he would ask me to come in with him on a Saturday and we’d work together.”
Anita Stubbings says she’s going to miss all of her customers too.
“They’ve been like friends for all these years, and we’ve had wonderful, wonderful people come here. It’s sad. It’s been here since I moved here and raised my children here,” said Stubbings.