All American Cleaners
Stu Silver / Zalman Velvel
We were very curious while the building was being constructed on the corner of Merrick Road and Harbor Lane, one of our busiest intersections. Three of the outside walls were all glass, and the back was solid block.
What could be the purpose of such a building, we asked? Harbor Lane was the gateway to Bar Harbor and Harbor Green, the wealthiest areas in Massapequa Park, Long Island. The best guesses were a fancy restaurant, or an exclusive women’s sportswear store. Today the site would be perfect for fast food, but in 1960, McDonalds had not sprouted on thousands of American corners. It was a more simple time, propelled by primal emotions. Elvis Presley was the King of Rock and Roll; the Beatles and the Vietnam War, were years away.
When the sign went up, “All American Cleaners,” we were astounded. There had never been a building of that size dedicated to dry cleaning clothes, on such an expensive parcel of land. How could it survive, how would it attract enough customers to stay in business, we wondered?
The owners had an innovative answer to that question, based upon a new application of mass production, and an old form of advertising.
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