MESSAGE TO CUSTOMERS
Dear Customers (past and present),
I have some very sad news...
>>> 😢 WE HAVE CLOSED DOWN 😢 <<<
In December 2021, we were notified that we would need to vacate by the end of May due to the landlord's intention to demolish Westmead Shopping Village.
(Westmead Shopping Village is private property - the demolition is unrelated to the extensive nearby works by Parramatta Light Rail or Sydney Metro West.)
We were locked into closing down as, after receiving the notice to vacate, some essential equipment was sold or disposed of, and we did not invest in maintenance as, without maintenance, we were confident that we could continue to safely operate until the end of May.
In April 2022, the landlord indicated to some of the business owners in Westmead Shopping Village (but not to me) that demolition would be delayed by at least a year, but as it was too late for us to change plans, and closing down was unavoidable.
The last day my shop was Thursday 9 June 2022. You can still contact me (Peter) via e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org, or on 0438876997.
I thought I'd take this opportunity to say a few parting words to all of my customers.
Gratitude to my customers
Undoubtedly, during the 5 year 4 month history of my business, the aspect which I have enjoyed most has been interacting with my customers. Almost all of these interactions have been friendly and pleasant, and I have even come to consider some customers as friends. I've deeply appreciated the time people have taken to chat with me, the words of praise and encouragement (including Google ratings and comments!), and even (occasionally) the gifts that people have given me. Thanks so much to you all!
Check our ratings on Google!
How did we do? It's no longer possible to see our business on Google, as I have changed the status to "permanently closed". But we had 39 reviews with an average of 4.7 stars - which would have been even higher if a couple of vexatious reviews are excluded.
I'll post screenshots of the reviews to this web site later.
Short History of Epic Dry Cleaning
Here's a potted history of my involvement in Epic Dry Cleaning. For most of my career, I was in IT, mostly at IBM, where I worked for 26 years. In the 1990s I took a break from IT, living in Japan and working as an English teacher (teaching Grades 7-9), which I loved. In May 2016, my job at IBM was made redundant, and IBM, to their discredit, refused to pay two-thirds of my accumulated redundancy entitlement (I was denied over $70,000). This meant that my hopes of having enough capital to start or buy a business were dashed.
Then, an opportunity to restart a dry cleaning business in Westmead Shopping Village arose. After my best friend (Eren) and I worked for a solid month and a half setting up the business and getting everything working properly, we opened Epic Dry Cleaning in February 2017. For the first six months the business was open, I was working two jobs - primarily as a consultant to the head of Corporate Responsibility at Woolworths - a very interesting job which was largely unrelated to IT - but also every morning at Epic Dry Cleaning. Thereafter, I was fully focused on Epic Dry Cleaning. Eren later exited the business to focus on his career (I'm very happy for his success), but he has always still been there for advice and support when needed.
The impact of Parramatta Light Rail
Gradually, the number of customers and the turnover increased, until two calamitous events hit us almost simultaneously in March 2020: COVID-19 (we all know about that!) and Parramatta Light Rail. Business crashed, and we ended up closing on Wednesdays as there was not enough work to do.
I feel very bitter about how the business has been impacted by Parramatta Light Rail:
a noisy, dusty, ugly work site was established behind Westmead Shopping Village.
all access from Hawkesbury Road was cut, instantly choking off almost all foot traffic through Westmead Shopping Village. Before being cut, hundreds of people would walk past the business, but after being cut, this became a trickle.
the building was surrounded at the back and, at various times, at the front with ugly fencing.
almost daily, Parramatta Light Rail workers have been parking illegally (in the full knowledge that it's illegal!) in our small parking lot, taking valuable spaces which are meant to be only for staff and customers. I have hundreds of photographs of these vehicles.
apart from a couple of PLR marketing campaigns, there has been no compensation.
nothing of any consequence was done to attract customers. Oh wait, a couple of featureless planter boxes containing similarly unimpressive lomandra plants were placed outside the front of the building for a few months - wow!!! Oh wait, and they posted a handful of Facebook posts that I'm sure you've all seen - right? Right???
The impact of COVID-19 on my other job
Most of you would probably be surprised to know that I have had another "job". Prior to COVID-19, I was working as an American football official (as in NFL) in the NSW league - something which I had looked forward to doing on Saturdays for three years. The game is indeed played here, and there are several fields dotted around Sydney.
COVID-19 meant that I had to indefinitely suspend my officiating work. So since late 2019, I'd been working in the shop on Saturdays. (Previously, Eren and JoJo had done most Saturdays while I was officiating.)
The neglect of the NSW Government
In 2018, well before the impacts of Parramatta Light Rail on our business, I joined Parramatta Light Rail's Business Reference Group to represent businesses in Westmead. I have now come to the sad conclusion that this seems to be part of a charade which has been confected to give the stage-managed impression that the NSW Government is consulting, listening and appropriately responding - but, at least in my experience, it has done none of these things.
Relevant local Members of Parliament for Seven Hills (Mark Taylor, Liberal) and Parramatta (Geoff Lee, Liberal) have been conspicuously absent and silent, providing no assistance and seeming not to care at all. The Minister for Transport at the time (Andrew Constance, Liberal) and the Parliamentary Secretary for Transport (Eleni Petinos, Liberal) both refused my invitations to visit and failed to provide any meaningful response to my comments and suggestions. I had spent years (since 2018) preparing detailed submissions on Parramatta Light Rail and on Sydney Metro West, having consulted and researched widely, and having made numerous representations, but all of this effort came to nil, and I reached the point where I had no confidence that engaging with Government was anything but a complete waste of time and effort, and that my continuing to play the game would only increase my frustration.
(Breaking news: I have recently engaged with the Sydney Metro West project team and put some suggestions to them - let's see whether that has any impact! I made a very brief submission to the third Environmental Impact Statement covering the main points which I discussed with the project team. They said they would get back to me - I've heard nothing.)
Relocation is, unfortunately, not viable. Commercial rents are astronomical (I'd effectively just be working for the landlord), with nothing available for less than $66,000 per annum in Westmead. Even if there affordable premises were available, setting up and fully equipping a new shop would be very expensive - probably at least $200,000.
Where can you take your clothes now?
We recommend Seven Hills Laundry Services at 33 Boomerang Place, Seven Hills. Their number is 0416 150 732 or (02) 9622 9559 - ask for Padma and tell her that Peter sent you! Their web site is here. Padma is a highly qualified textiles expert, and you can trust her to take good care of your clothes.
Well, this is a very big question mark at the moment. Having now closed the business, I have nothing lined up yet. I'll be looking for a new business opportunity or employment, hopefully one which is aligned with my values. (If you're interested in my résumé, I can send it to you!)
In closing, I'd like to say a big "Thank you!" for your support. You have my number if you'd like to stay in touch.
With my best regards,