When Frank Bosco started a new business in Luling, he had no inkling it would last 65 years. But his grandson, Joey, never thought he would have the sad responsibility of having to close the doors of a beloved landmark in St. Charles Parish.
“Things change … things just change,” said Joey Bosco, fighting back tears over shuttering Bosco’s Luling Cleaners. “It’s one of those things that isn’t going to be there anymore.”
Although Joey resisted the move for nearly three years to help the six dedicated women who have worked there more than 25 years, who he calls “his girls,” the decision to close was forced last year when work dropped steeply. It came amid an already downward trend in the need for dry cleaning.
“Our business is just falling off,” Joey said. “It’s just a trend.”
On April 1, he will place a sign on the Paul Maillard store announcing plans to close on May 30. With a uniform rental service across the street, Joey is entering semi-retirement.
For Gloria Triche of Luling, who has worked at Bosco’s for 42 years as its longest employee and manager, the parting will be a sad one.
“I’m sorry they’re closing,” Triche said. “I’ll miss the people. Everybody was so close and Joey was so nice to us. We knew all his kids. Our holidays were their holidays. Everybody was like family.”
She’ll also miss Trip, Joey’s Labrador retriever who often came to work in the mornings.
“He does everything with us,” Triche said of Trip. “People love him, remember him as a puppy and ask for him.”
Elaine Sandolph of Boutte, pressed pants for 40 years.
Sandolph considers her fellow workers sisters and she also appreciated knowing the customers.
Both Triche and Sandolph worked through the generations of Bosco’s owners, starting with Frank until his son bought the operation and then with Joey when he bought it.
“I hate even thinking about it,” Sandolph said of closing the store. “I’m just going to miss them – that’s all.”Although Sheila Jackson of Luling has only worked there 20 years compared to her fellow workers, she is equally connected to Bosco’s.
Jackson, who bags and tags the clothing, understands the changing times.
“I’m going to miss the customers,” she said. “Everyone comes in and if they don’t feel good we make them feel happy. I couldn’t find a better boss. I feel sad because you understand times change and you have to move on. I understand, but it’s still going to hurt.”
Bosco’s is meeting the fate of numerous dry cleaners forced to close because of the economy and industry downturn that Joey said has been going on nearly 10 years.
Over the years, the downturn has visibly claimed locations as they shuttered.
“All the clothes are home laundered now,” Joey said. “People don’t dress up. Jeans have Lycra [elastic polyurethane fiber] in them that doesn’t adhere to the starch.”
Joey didn’t expect to be the one who closed his Italian grandfather’s business, but it seemed more fabrics, even silk, became washable at home. Many other options to dry cleaning came available, eliminating the need for a dry cleaner.
His own supplier cut deliveries to every five to six weeks because they’re orders had become so small.
Bosco’s Luling Cleaners survived as long as it did because “everything is paid for,” Joey said. Had it been different, it would have closed three years ago, but the decision became more pressing when equipment needed to be replaced and he had decided he could not afford to replace it.“I’m here too much time for the money that we’re making,” he said. “I’m going to go on break for good in the summer.”When he closes the doors, Joey will say goodbye to history.His grandfather, Frank, was newly in from Italy and was in the bar room business when he decided to start the cleaning business in 1952.
“He was living the American dream,” Joey said of Frank, who he remembers as fun loving, outgoing and always ready to have a party.
“Everyone knows where Bosco’s is,” Joey said with pride. “If you come in there, you’re going to leave with a smile. We’re always smiling and joking. You didn’t have to say who you were when you walked in the front door – we know who you are.”