After Pivoting During Covid, ‘Hope’ Will Close Her Hoboken Business On Saturday


HOBOKEN, NJ — Even though Hope Kim says she’s not an artist, the evidence in the window of her business on Hoboken’s Washington Street says otherwise.

During the last few years that she’s run Swan Cleaners on Washington Street, she’s displayed her elaborate handmade journals in the window, and she also designs hand-drawn signs for the business that show a creative bent.

Saturday, she will close the business for good, and isn’t sure what she’ll do next, she says. She doesn’t see herself as an artist, but perhaps she’s just being modest.

Kim moved to Palisades Park, in Bergen County, in 2006 from South Korea. She worked as a legal secretary for a few years, then took over Swan Cleaners in 2010 from another owner.

For the next 14 years, she provided dry cleaning, folding and pressing, and alterations to suits and wedding gowns.

But she also created handmade jewelry on the side.

Her business did moderately well until work dried up during the pandemic in 2020.

“During covid there was not much work at the store,” she said, referring to both dry cleaning and jewelry. “I started watching the YouTube craft channels.”

She became interested in handmade journals, which decades ago were traditional gifts on special occasions, like weddings and anniversaries.

Kim began showing the journals in her store window, and sold about two or three per month, she said, for birthdays and other occasions.

It was definitely a niche business, but “Once they bought one, they kept coming back,” she said.

She’s not sure if she will sell the journals or jewelry on line, she said.

But she is sure of one thing.

“I wanted to thank all the people around me,” she said. “They were really loyal to the business. It’s hard to say goodbye to them. Some of them, I’ve known for 14 years.”

Several Have ‘Folded’

Kim’s business is one of several dry cleaners in Hoboken that have closed since the pandemic. With more people working at home, and casual clothes accepted more often in the workplace, there’s less demand to press and clean work attire.

The industry had been on the decline for years, reports say, and its decline hastened during the pandemic. (It should be noted that the makers of Tide say the future of laundry services is still bright, and presumably colorful.)

“We never recovered after that,” Kim said. “It got slower and slower.”

Rents also continued to climb, she noted.

Swan Cleaners will remain open through Saturday, Kim said, and anyone can stop by or reach out to her at Swan Cleaners is located at 906 Washington St.

Got news of a business opening or closing in Hoboken or Jersey City? Tell Patch.

Share post:


More like this