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College Point biz gives back

State Sen. Tony Avella (r.) presents a Certificate of Recognition to Bobby Romano. Photo courtesy Tony Avella
TimesLedger Newspapers

A College Point dry cleaner has joined shops nationwide in offering to spruce up business suits for unemployed individuals preparing for a job interview — and he has already helped one job-seeker land a new gig.

Bobby Romano is the owner of Whitepoint Cleaners, at 132-07 14th Ave., and decided to waive the normal cleaning fee for neighbors struggling with finding employment.

“Why not give back?” Romano asked.

And that generosity made all the difference for one woman.

A few weeks ago, a woman and her fiancee came into the store and gave Romano a navy business suit in need of cleaning, he said. After Romano worked his magic, the woman took the suit, wore it for her interview and later returned to thank the business owner.

“The couple came back,” he said. “She happened to get the job.”

The woman and her fiancee could not be identified by press time, but their story is what makes Romano want to keep up the trend.

He has had about 10 or 12 people take advantage of his offer so far. A poster in the window of his business explains the deal. He does not ask for proof of unemployment, but rather takes people on their word, betting that nobody would abuse his goodwill.

“You’d have to be crazy to do that,” he said.

Romano has run the business for 25 years in the Whitepoint Shopping Center and has many loyal customers, including state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

Last Thursday, Avella presented Romano with a Certificate of Recognition for Romano’s service to the community.

“It’s a small thing, but it could have a big impact on someone’s life,” Avella said. “It could get an individual or family back on their feet.”

Especially since first impressions are key, Avella said.

But the sluggish job market is nothing new, and the idea of offering free dry cleaning for job-seekers has become something of a grassroots phenomenon across the country, though it is unclear where it started.

In 2009 and 2011, multiple news reports from Manhattan and Oregon, popped up about businesses also offering to clean suits for job interviews.

And according to Romano, after his College Point business started offering the service about three months ago, a cleaner in New Jersey did the same.

In each case the sign posted in the window is nearly identical: “If you are unemployed and need an outfit cleaned for an interview, we will clean it for free.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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