Eco-friendly dry cleaner gets big-time tryout »
The Guldjian family didn’t have a lot of money when they came to the United States from Syria in 1981, so mother Lucy Guldjian opened a small tailoring shop at Sixth and Main streets in Huntington Beach to help support the family.
Her sons went to college – Harry earning a degree in business administration and Chris became a lawyer – but they learned a lot about entrepreneurship from mom. Harry has opened two more Lucy’s Tailoring shops including one in South Coast Plaza, and Chris has his own law practice in Costa Mesa.
Looking to expand their business opportunities to include their brother-in-law Garo Panosyan, who has 20 years’ experience in the dry cleaning industry, the trio opened Green Spot Cleaners at 18449 Brookhurst St. in Fountain Valley in 2010.
But the partners aren’t content to own and run a single-location service business. Thinking big has landed Green Spot a tryout to sell its dry cleaning services at two Orange County Costco membership warehouse stores.
The Costco stores in Fountain Valley and Tustin are offering $50 worth of dry cleaning, shoe repair and tailoring from Green Spot Cleaners for $34.99 through what the Big Box retailer calls its “tickets” program. Through this program, Costco members can buy movie tickets, spa services, entry to Southern California entertainment parks and other items that can’t be put in a can or package on the shelves the way green beans and vitamins can. Nationwide, Costco tests 400 to 600 products and services through its ticket program annually, the company said. Although a nationwide chain, a store may have as much as 25 percent unique merchandise. The retailer doesn’t care how big or small a supplying company is as long as the deal provides value for customers.
“The first thing we look for is quality,” says John Eagan, Costco vice president in the Los Angeles region that has 50 warehouse stores. “The second thing is whether a supplier can provide the quantities I need when I need them and the third thing is price. It’s not just low price; we try to offer value.” Costco can usually tell within three weeks whether a test is successful. Costco customers visit a store every eight days, on average, so they see a test product twice during that three weeks.
“I can’t tell you how hard it was to get them to accept us,” says Chris Guldjian. “The Costco vice president called me the most persistent vendor they had. I said, ‘just give me a couple of months on the floor.'” Costco representatives inspected the store in person. They verified that Green Spot wasn’t going to charge outrageous prices so that the $34.99 Costco price didn’t buy as much as going to a regular cleaner.
Eagan says Costco might send someone to try out a company as a customer to make sure the services or products are what has been promised.
Green Spot Cleaners stresses its environmentally friendly approach to dry cleaning, which is becoming increasingly popular among some cleaners. Green Spot is licensed to use the liquid silicone products and patented processes of Missouri-based Green Earth Cleaners, Chris says. There are other cleaners in Southern California that have Green Earth licenses, he says. There are also “green cleaners’ that use hydrocarbon products to clean fabric. “Our whole approach to dry cleaning is to have 100% nontoxic environment,” Chris says. “Garo has worked in Newport Beach and has brought Newport Beach quality to an area that doesn’t have as many green cleaners but at Fountain Valley prices.”
Approximately 15 percent of Green Spot’s business is Costco related, which Chris hopes will grow. “I have watched people (in Costco) stand at our display with a perplexed look or do a double take. It’ s unusual so it will take people a while to get it.”
Pictured above: Harry Guldjian, Garo Panosyan and Chris Guldjian, from left, are co-owners of Green Spot Cleaners in Fountain Valley. Costco will begin carrying vouchers for its services through its tickets program. They also have two other locations.
Harry Guldjian, Garo Panosyan and Chris Guldjian, from left, are co-owners of Green Spot Cleaners in Fountain Valley. Costco will begin carrying vouchers for its services through its tickets program. They also have two other locations