Arcadia Grove Cleaners
Keeping Alamo Heights Looking Sharp for Over 70 Years
By Meredith Kay
Photography by David Teran
With so much uncertainty in the world today, it’s comforting when some things remain consistent in our communities, like the businesses we have depended on for generations. There aren’t many legacy family businesses left in our ever-changing society, but for one Alamo Heights family, making their neighbors look good has been their business for nearly 60 years.
Arcadia Grove Cleaners originally opened its doors for business in 1949 in the Arcadia Grove Center on Broadway. In fact, the business is only one of five legacy businesses in Alamo Heights that continues to operate in their original location. Today, Arcadia Grove Cleaners is run by Alma Small, her children, and an outstanding staff of customer service and garment care specialists. Alma’s husband, Don, sadly passed away last year, and she continues to uphold the family atmosphere that has allowed the dry cleaning businesses to thrive for so many years. Don’s grandfather purchased the business in the mid-1960s after he retired from the Air Force. He was an affable and outgoing personality who loved to engage with the community, and the business allowed him to connect with his neighbors on a daily basis. Don’s father eventually took over the business, and Don and Alma followed in their footsteps, moving back to San Antonio from El Paso in 1977 to help out.
Don and Alma were high school sweethearts and attended Jefferson High School, and together they had six children. Five of the children are still in San Antonio and help out at the store when needed, and one of their sons is now living in Hawaii. Alma is very proud of her family, and she lights up when she describes how her children came together to help her with the business when Don passed. She also reflects emotionally when she describes how the Alamo Heights community responded with an outpouring of support when Don died. She says, “Our customers are like family to us. We have watched them grow up and start their own families and careers, and we were so touched by the love they showed us during such a hard time for our family.”
Arcadia Grove Cleaners offers so much more than just dry cleaning and are known for their “Cowboy Starch”. Alma says that they have loyal customers that come in from as far away as Pleasanton, Boerne, and Floresville for this specialty treatment. The store offers full laundry services, wedding gown preservation and restoration, along with alterations and seamstress work. Arcadia Grove even has an expert seamstress that specializes in creating handmade custom suits. The store also offers free pick-up and delivery, and you can often find Alma herself driving the van.
“I love to do pick-up and deliveries because it gives me the opportunity to sit and chat with our elderly customers who can’t get to the store on their own. They have been customers for years and we have become friends.”
Arcadia Grove Cleaners has seen many changes over the years, but most recently with the pandemic. Alma notes that the business now does a lot more bedding as people are more conscious about cleanliness, and are able to handle large comforters, bedspreads, and curtains. Alma and her team treat their customers like family, and they are always ready to go that extra mile to make their customers feel special. Alma smiles when she says, “We are very family-oriented, and we notice things that customers might not catch. We also love to help new, young professionals dress well as they embark upon their careers. Most of our customers have grown up with their parents bringing their clothes to us, and we want to pass along the same traditions and customer service that we have always practiced for many generations to come.”
Arcadia Grove Cleaners
Monday to Friday 7:00A-6:00P
Closed on Sundays