Wire Hangers to Blame for Increased Dry Cleaning Costs

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- The price you pay at the dry cleaner is on the rise. Higher gasoline prices are partially to blame. But the real reason has to do with the soaring cost of wire hangers.

And it's a hanger manufacturing company in Alabama that's most responsible.

Dry Cleaner Jim Massey admits it's hard to fathom -- his company uses as many as 250,000 wire hangers every month. And he says the price he pays has nearly doubled.

"We were paying around 6 cents a hanger. Now they're 10 cents," Massey said.

That's because Alabama hanger manufacturer, M&B, convinced the government to impose tariffs on hangers imported from China. Headquartered in Leeds, M&B claims it was being forced out of the market because Chinese hangers were so inexpensive.

"We have mixed emotions because obviously we're pulling for the American manufacturer," Massey explained.

But the tariffs mean he has to pay more. And in turn, so do his customers.

Some customers said they were willing to accept the increase, "because he's supporting Alabama," said one woman.

"I would pay the higher price to get the Alabama hangers," said another customer.

You can help cut costs by returning your wire hangers to be recycled. However, they must be in good condition in order to be reused. And you cannot reuse hangers that include cardboard.

"With our equipment, unless the hanger is in perfect shape, we can't use it," Massey said. "But we do try to recycle any hanger that we can."

Massey says he's also coping with higher gas prices for trucks that travel between stores.

"Plus the plastic that goes over the clothes is a petroleum product, so that has gone up," he added.

The higher cost of business is forcing Massey to raise his prices about 3-percent beginning this month.

Reporter: Mark Bullock