Willow Cleaners at 440 W. Willow St. is a familiar sight to all who drive down this main thoroughfare. The current manager, Myoung Roh, has been the manager for more than 30 years and is still going strong.
She came to the United States from Korea in the 1970s after marrying a man who was visiting there from the US where he was and is a citizen. Myoung’s husband’s family owned several businesses and in 1979 obtained the Willow Street Cleaners here in Long Beach. Myoung was the perfect person to manage the Long Beach business. Since the drive from Fullerton where they lived was not so long and because they were fortunate to have excellent, reliable employees, the operation ran smoothly. This arrangement enabled Myoung to manage her family of two girls and one boy in a workable fashion. “They are all grown up now with children of their own. I have three grandchildren and another on the way. This makes me very happy,” Myoung says.
She also enjoys her work. Willow Cleaners has five employees– some of them family– who do the cleaning, laundry, and alterations. The pressers who are hired must have experience, and the cleaners must clean everything except leather. Myoung and the new employees learned from the previous owner as well as the old employees about different chemicals and techniques. “The change in the economy, in the neighborhood, in styles and fabrics require constant learning, which keeps us all up to the demands of the job,” Myoung says.
She is quick to comment that learning has always been important to her family and is demonstrated by the fact that there are five teachers in the group. “All of us like to keep our customers and our students happy. I myself majored in vocal and sing in my church choir in Buena Park,” she says. Myoung says her greatest job is caring for her grandchildren and watching them grow. Managing a successful cleaners that is dependable and capable on a busy street like Willow is something of which the entire staff can be proud.