Pilgrim Cleaners opens first St. Paul location

by Jerry Rothstein
Pilgrim Cleaners & Launderers has purchased Skylark Dry Cleaning (1530 West 7th) and opened its first St. Paul plant and store. The location becomes Pilgrim’s 28th Twin Cities operation.
Companies and communities may share a number of key characteristics, and the fit between Pilgrim and the West End is striking.
We are a neighborhood steeped in history and culture, mutual support and environmental concerns, and Pilgrim’s corporate history and culture resonates in these areas.
Starting with patriarch Donald Rosen, three generations have guided Pilgrim’s development. After serving in WWII, Rosen began selling cleaning equipment to the industry, became a partner in the Pilgrim/Johnny on the Spot chain, and sole owner in the early ‘80s. His daughter, Bonnie Engler, who worked behind the counter early on, at first did not seem likely to join the business. But after training as a nurse and years of practice, she became involved again, learned the business “from the ground up” working with her father, and ultimately bought him out in 2004. Bonnie’s son Derek, who also worked “behind the counter,” and also started their home and office delivery service is now Pilgrim’s Vice-President.
As Pilgrim has grown, it has invested a lot of time and resources to become a green cleaner. Green cleaning agents fully replaced chemicals by 2010. Advanced technology in equipment and cleaning processes have saved energy and water. Hangers are recycled and, more recently, polybags used to protect garments are recycled through a local company that supports careers and educational enrichment for young people while converting the plastics to building materials.
Pilgrim’s operations have matured into a comprehensive system for all laundry, dry cleaning, tailoring and alteration services, with a home and office pick-up and delivery service. “Wet cleaning,” a technique for safely processing fine, delicate fabrics, is also an option.
   Commitment to the community and “giving back” was something that Don Rosen taught his children and instilled in his business. His daughter, Bonnie, and grandson, Derek, started the Rose Foundation in his honor to support Pilgrim’s community involvement including their Coat’s for Kids program, collecting and cleaning thousands of winter coats each year and distributing them through more than twenty nonprofit organizations. Pilgrim’s commitment to the community was recognized with the Minnesota Business Magazine’s 2018 Community Impact Award.
Derek Engler points out that Pilgrim’s continued growth is supported by its strong community service and the relationships that it has built. After nine months on West 7th, Pilgrim has added several job opportunities at their facility and also invested a lot of time and resources in order to set the foundation for its long-term presence in the West End.
Pilgrim Cleaners, 1530 West 7th, 612-379-2532, Hours: Mon-Fri 7-7; Sat. 9-4.

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