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Spotlight on Leawood Village Cleaners

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What began as a couple finding love during a Peace Corps assignment in South Korea eventually resulted in establishing one of the premier dry cleaning businesses in the KC-metro. Leawood Village Cleaners, 13009 Stateline Road, Kansas City, Missouri, is co-owned by Oeki Rieper, who has the leading role in this romance story.

“I grew up in South Korea. Forty years ago, I married a Peace Corps volunteer, a young college man from Detroit. He taught English, and my brother was his student. That’s how I met this blue-eyed, blond-haired young man,” laughed Oeki. “After marrying, we lived in Hawaii for eight months and then Detroit so he could get his doctorate. His first job was in Blue Springs, and we thought we would be here for a few years. But we wound up staying and now KC is my home.”


Creating a Family Partnership

Eventually both of Oeki’s brothers followed her to Kansas City, and then her mother and father. It was her brother Soon Yong Hong who wanted to get into the dry cleaning business. “We heard this nice couple had a drying cleaning business for sale. I met the owners, Bill and Raleigh Wallace, and explained to them that my brother was interested in the business,” remembered Oeki. “We talked for about an hour as they showed me around. Mrs. Wallace said to me, ‘Why don’t you and your brother purchase this? You would be good in customer service, and your brother could run the rest of the operation. You would be perfect for this business.’ So I got into the business quite accidentally.”

But what began as an accident for Oeki has blossomed into a long-term, successful business focused on meeting the needs of customers. Leawood Village Cleaners was purchased from the Wallaces in 1997 by Oeki and her brother, thanks in part to a small business loan from Bank of Blue Valley. “Before they left, Bill and Raleigh trained us how to do everything by the book. They helped me understand the quality of the work that was needed by customers,” commented Oeki. “Also, the four dry cleaning and shirt pressers that she personally trained stayed with us. In fact, they’re still here today.”


Longevity Builds Confidence 

When you add up the experience of these employees at Leawood Village Cleaners, it’s incredibly impressive. Oeki notes that two of her two pressers have been here for 30 years with the third presser logging over 20 years. The shirt presser boasts 20 years of experience. “I was so lucky to inherit them as my employees,” noted Oeki. “In addition, my brother does spotting and cleaning, and I do quality control and inspection. When you open your bag of garments from Leawood Village Cleaners, it’s ready to wear.”

This attention to detail is what drives Oeki and her staff at Leawood Village Cleaners. Her business philosophy is to provide excellent dry cleaning services for her many customers, while meeting their individualized needs. Efforts can be tailored to their exact specifications.

“We are more quality conscious than quantity focused, and we offer extra attention to detail. I do the final inspection before the order goes into the plastic bag, and it takes time,” revealed Oeki. “But 99.99 percent of our customers are regulars. I know what they like, and I treat them like family. I credit my customers with my success as a business owner. They’re well educated and well-traveled, and they’re very nice to me and my employees.”


Customers Are a Priority

Knowing customers, giving attention to detail, providing great service and accommodating rush orders are the guiding principles for Leawood Village Cleaners. “I really want to go the extra mile because I want to help my loyal customers. I cannot take care of your marriage and financial problems, but I can take care of your garment issues,” laughed Oeki.

Oeki and her employees at Leawood Village Cleaners are focused on helping their customers maintain their clothing wardrobes. They understand that quality clothing can last nearly a lifetime if it’s cared for properly. “My customers own very nice garments and want to take care of them. Many times I’ll see some clothes that are 20 years old but they’re good pieces that need to be cleaned well,” she said. “Not all cleaners are the same, but at Leawood Village Cleaners we ensure our processes are in top shape because of our attention to detail.”

Oeki affirms that you should be smart about your dry cleaners and chose the right one. Whether your needs are for clothing, tablecloths, comforters, curtains or other items, this small business should be at the top of your list when it comes to servicing your dry cleaning needs.

What began decades ago as a Peace Corps affection in South Korea and blossomed into a lifetime commitment can now positively impact you and your fine clothing. If you love your clothes, visit Leawood Village Cleaners. HLM


Visit Leawood Village Cleaners, 13009 Stateline Road, Kansas City, Missouri, or call 816-942-3838.