Couple looks to retirement after ‘cleaning’ for 30 years

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River Town Dry Cleaning, Carroll County’s one and only dry cleaning business, will soon close after 30 years of operation.


Dan and Rose Russell, the proprietors of the business, will miss the friendly relationships they have shared with their customers over the years.

The business, which has been open since Dec. 27, 1982, has been in the same location in the Park Lane Shopping Center on Highland Avenue for the past 30 years. They will remain in business until Dec. 31, when the couple will retire to their farm in Campbellsburg.

The Russells have lived in Campbellsburg for 40 years. They previously owned two dry-cleaning businesses in Oldham County and one in Jefferson County, before selling them and opening a single business in Carrollton. Their goal was a quieter, easier life. And they have found it here among the citizens of Carroll and its neighboring counties.

Instead of a quiet atmosphere, however, River Town Dry Cleaning has been busy every day since it opened. Still, the Russells say they have enjoyed every minute of it. They will miss their clientele, whom they have gotten to know well over the years. They have watched the children of their first customers grow up and bring their own children into the shop. “Thirty years covers a lot of people,” Dan said.

Dan has been in the dry cleaning business for a total of 51 years, Rose for 38, and “it’s time to move on,” she said.

In their retirement, the Russells will garden, spend time with family and occasionally travel. While they are ready to slow down somewhat, they are “not ready to hit the rocking chair yet,” Rose said.

Dan was born and raised in Crestwood, Ky.  Rose was born in Valley Station, which is in the southwestern part of Jefferson County. The couple met at church and will celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary in February. The Russells have spent the last 38 years being together twenty-four hours a day. They work together and farm together, “and we haven’t killed each other yet,”Dan said with a smile.

Rose takes care of the front of the store by keeping the books, meeting customers and answering the phone. Dan works in the back, managing the machines, and cleaning and pressing the clothes.

Years ago, a large portion of their business came from tobacco buyers. These customers kept them so busy,  they often worked more than 16 hours a day. Now it is far less busy – they work for only about 10 hours per day.

Over the years, some famous people have stopped into their shop, including Steve Beshear, before he was governor, and University of Kentucky basketball star Kenny Walker. The Russells are “big UK fans” and their shop shows it – the walls are covered in blue-and-white posters and memorabilia.

As of press time, there is no one to take over the business, but Dan believes someone will start another dry cleaning business in Carrollton.

“Everything changes sooner or later,” he said.

The Russells are eager to thank their customers for the wonderful 30 years they have had and have run an advertisement in The News-Democrat for that purpose. “We’ve had some customers that have been with us since day one – never had a complaint,” said Dan.

Rose added that they have the “best customers ever, and that’s the truth.”

In return, the Russells have done their best to take good care of their customers over the years.

“I don’t want to disappoint any of them,” Dan said.

To do this, the Russells work hard to build up friendships with those they serve. If the clothes are needed for a serious event, such as a funeral, the Russells put those orders ahead of others. Sometimes customers come in just to talk, and Dan and Rose are always willing to listen and swap stories. 

They have won the loyalty of many, as some customers have moved away but still send their clothes to River Town to be dry-cleaned. This has resulted in business from Northern Kentucky to Louisville. Some customers have brought the Russells flowers, cakes, homemade bread or candy at Christmastime.

The couple said they will truly miss this job, even though they are excited for the change that will come with retirement. 

“We love Carroll County and the people in it,” Rose said.