COVID NYC Update: Dry Cleaners in Brooklyn Continue to Struggle 1 Year Later

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COLUMBIA WATERFRONT DISTRICT, Brooklyn (WABC) – At the height of the pandemic, a family-owned Brooklyn cleaning company chose to make masks for its customers. However, a year later, that same company is struggling to survive financially. Lily La is afraid, and for good reason. His family business, La Dry Cleaners, is in financial trouble.
“Every day I come here from morning till night, we’re lucky to have three clients,” La said. Eyewitness News first spoke about this mom-and-pop dry cleaner in Carroll Gardens in last April.

Lily and Tom La were forced to close their store during the pandemic.

The country was seized with fear and no one could find a mask. So, they took their skills and their generous hearts and started sewing free masks for the neighborhood.

Tony and Lily La gave Eyewitness News reporter Lucy Yang a mask when they first met a year ago.

Word of their kindness spread. A woman asked for 200 to be sent to Nigeria.

They made 400 more for the homeless in the Bronx and 500 for the elderly in Manhattan. They never asked for a penny.

“I’m very happy to do this. No regrets, ”Lily La.

Now, a year later, Eyewitness News is back to see how they are doing.

Their doors reopened, but the customers didn’t really come back.

Most are still not back in the office, which means there isn’t a lot of clothes to clean. And sewing is not enough to pay the rent.

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“I did some custom stuff from them and I always insist on that because these guys are great,” said one client.

After handcrafting 10,000 masks, Lily La now suffers from carpal tunnel, but she is not complaining. It’s not who they are.

For more than three decades, hard work has been their ticket to the American dream. Tony and Lily La thought they could keep the store in their golden years. But the cruel reality is that they might not survive beyond the summer.

“There are a lot of memories, this is my home. Yes. Really. This is my home, ”said Lily La.

If you would like to help out, you can contribute on La’s GoFundMe page.

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