Iconic East Side cleaners back in business

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Jim Bell’s Cleaners was locked and the lights were out, with a sign from an angry customer taped to the front door demanding, “I need my clothes.” Dozens of customers came and went wondering if the East Side landmark on Jefferson Avenue was still in business.  

Bell’s Cleaners has been in operation on Jefferson Ave. for more than 70 years, but in the last few days the store has gone dark, leaving customers clamoring for their clothes. A passerby even took to Facebook posting the picture of a man in front of the shop, “crying because he couldn’t get his father’s tuxedo to bury him.”  

Owner Darryl Black told News 4 he fell behind on his electric bill, and National Grid turned out the lights last Friday. Without power, Black said he was powerless to serve his customers.     

“I could not help them because without the power the computers don’t work and I don’t know where their clothes are located–that is the only thing. Other than that, if I had to go through them one by one, I would.” 

Early Tuesday, Black talked to a customer service representative for National Grid who, after a lengthy phone conversation, dispatched a work crew to Bell’s to restore the power. 

Black said the light company even issued a credit on the store’s electric bill because it took the power utility more than 24 hours to turn the lights back on, “We paid the bill, we don’t owe them nothing, it was pretty huge bill. We paid it down to zero.” 

To restore customer faith in Jim Bell’s Cleaners, Black said anyone who came for their dry cleaning from Friday through Wednesday, they can pick up their clothes free-of-charge. Any customers who have already paid for their dry cleaning over the same period will get a refund. 

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