Showing posts with label Sun's Laundry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sun's Laundry. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

A 14th Street storefront is available to rent for the first time in 63 years

The east storefront at 626 E. 14th St. is available for the first time since 1959.

A for-rent sign recently arrived on the front window between Avenue B and Avenue C at the now-closed Sun's Laundry.

Robert Lee opened the dry-cleaning business with his father in 1959.

Mr. Lee was 84 in August 2020 when he and his family decided to close up shop, one of the city's last Chinese hand laundries.

Both Gothamist and NBC News had features on Mr. Lee following his retirement. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

The long history of Sun's Laundry on 14th Street

Sun's Laundry closed at the end of August at 626 E. 14th St. ... marking the end of the decades-spanning business that Robert Lee opened with his father in this storefront between Avenue B and Avenue C in 1959.

NBC News has a lengthy feature on Lee and his shop — one of the city's last Chinese hand laundries — that's worth your time.

An excerpt: 
By clocking in 12 hours a day, six days a week, to support his family, Lee was able to put his children, Jane and Edward, through city colleges. During the golden years in the 1980s to the 1990s, Gee said, his uncle earned roughly $2,000 to $3,000 a month.

Lee claims to have maintained the lowest prices, starting at 19 cents to clean a shirt in 1959 and $1.20 in 2020, while competitors usually charged $1.80 to $2.50.

However, the shifts in consumer habits to automated drying machines in the 1970s to polyesters and wrinkle-free products in the 1980s to casual wear in the 20th century had slowly caused hand laundry businesses to falter. But Lee never considered automating his business model.   

Still, Lee and his family were able to buy a two-story house in Elmhurst, Queens, with their added savings from selling their laundry business in Boston. They had purchased Sun's Laundry for $4,300 and secured a 99-year lease, with rent starting at $100 a month in 1959, which steadily rose to $800 from 2008 onward.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Sun's Laundry closes after more than 60 years on 14th Street

A for-real end of an era at 626 E. 14th St., where Sun's Laundry has closed... several EVG readers told us that family members gathered here on Saturday to officially say goodbye to the business that Robert Lee opened with his father in this storefront between Avenue B and Avenue C in 1959...

In recent years Mr. Lee had reduced the business hours to two to three days a week as he contemplated retirement. The shop closed at the start of the COVID-19 PAUSE, and only recently reopened so patrons could retrieve any remaining items.

A nephew, Robert Gee, told Gothamist that the decision to close was made for the family with the COVID-19 crisis.

For Lee, 84, and his wife, Wai Hing Lee, 76, who works alongside him, commuting to the shop from their home in Elmhurst, Queens, was too big of a risk during the pandemic.

"With stay-at-home, there's no need for work clothes," said Gee. "And even earlier than that, the rise of business-casual attire in the workplace has had an impact on the Chinese laundry business because there’s less dry cleaning and less pressed blouses needed for work."

Building resident (since 1981) Carol Kostik told Gothamist: "It does feel like the end of an era with times changing in New York, but Mr. Lee has earned his retirement many times over, so we all wish him well."

Thank you to @NycAuntie for the photos!