Bob Houseman cleans a pair of pants at Jan’s Cleaners. The business, which opened in 1978, is closing to make room for a new fire station that will be built at the location.

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A fire station in central Beatrice will mark the start of a new era for Beatrice Fire and Rescue.

But the building being funded by a voter-approved sales tax will result in one Beatrice business closing its doors for good after more than 40 years in business.

Jan’s Cleaners, at 312 S. Sixth St., is on land the fire station will someday occupy.

With a demolition looming, the store will close on Aug. 23. Friday, Aug. 16, is the last day clothes will be accepted.

Owners Bob and Deb Houseman said it’s sad to see the business close after opening at the current location in 1978.

"I was thinking about it this morning and almost got tears in my eyes,” Bob Houseman said. “There’s a lot of memories here. I spent most of my life here.

“Everybody in my family has been here, and it’s pretty much been a family business. That’s one of the things that’s kind of hard. It’s been a family thing and that’s been a fun part.”

The couple said it’s too expensive to relocate the business to another building, and they will be looking for new jobs after taking some time off once the business closes.

The closure will leave many customers high and dry and when it comes to dry cleaning.

“They’re happy for us because of our age but are sad to see us close,” Bob Houseman said. “‘Where are we going to take our clothes?’ they ask. It’s true. Where are they going to take their clothes? If you look around at smaller communities the size of Beatrice, they don’t have cleaners anymore. It’s just another change. I like to say professionals don’t dress like professionals anymore.”

Brown’s Shoe Fit Company will help fill the void as a dropoff location for William’s Cleaners out of Lincoln. Dropoffs can be made at the Beatrice location, where workers will make a weekly trip to Lincoln to deliver the load and pick up the previous week’s orders.

Bob and Deb Houseman took over Jan's Cleaners from Wayne and Jan Houseman, Bob Houseman’s parents, in 2003.

The number of local customers has decreased over the years, but Jan’s Cleaners has picked up customers from neighboring counties after other cleaners closed.

“The local ones closing have helped us because those people come in,” Deb Houseman said. “It’s not like it used to be. Beatrice used to have four cleaners. Now it’s just us.

“For our age, we’re happy to sell it. It’s been on our minds over the years.”

It will be hard for the family to see the business close after so many years, and so many memories.

But Bob Houseman added that despite the sadness of Jan’s Cleaners going out of business, he’s certain Beatrice Fire and Rescue needs a new department, and that they found a great spot to build one.

“I toured (the current station), and I think it’s pretty dangerous for them guys to be working there,” he said. "When it came up I had a feeling this was going to be the spot. I really did. Just because of the way the property sits and where it’s at. It’s a perfect spot.”

Bob and Deb Houseman said they appreciate all the customers they’ve gotten to work with over the years.

“Our customers were basically our family and friends,” Bob Houseman said. “We just appreciate the support over the years.”

This article originally ran on journalstar.com.


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