Peter Pan Dry Cleaners ends long run at 38th & Grand

Peter Pan Dry Cleaners has operated since the 1930s, according to the owner.

Peter Pan Dry Cleaners closes Sept. 2 after operating for decades on the corner of 38th & Grand.

The building changed hands in late July, and the new owner said he’s investing in the building and changing the mix of tenants to include a coffeehouse or eatery on the corner.

Peter Pan owner Mary Poutinen said the new rent would be too expensive for her, and she’s not interested in a proposal to operate a smaller dry store that would send clothing elsewhere for cleaning.

“I wasn’t about to stay in business if I didn’t have the corner,” she said.

Poutinen said she will consider the prospect of a new location after she moves out.

“It’s possible. But I really want to greet the customers and thank them for their patronage over the years and to do the work until the 2nd,” she said.

Poutinen said she’s sharing brownies and lemonade on Saturday, Aug. 26 from 12 p.m.-3 p.m. to thank the neighborhood for many years of support.

Tyler Avestini, the new building owner, said he’s implementing market-rate rents to cover the cost of the building upkeep.

“That building is over 100 years old, it’s falling apart,” he said.

Peter Pan’s current rent for the 4,000-square-foot space isn’t adequate to offset the building’s taxes, insurance and repairs, he said. Avestini said he’s fixed a downspout to prevent water damage and next he wants to replace wood siding and install a more efficient heating and cooling system.

Avestini said he plans to subdivide Peter Pan’s storefront into smaller spaces. He’s interested in a coffeehouse or eatery for the corner, and he’s talking to potential tenants like UP Coffee and FireBox Deli. He said he previously considered a franchise like Subway.

“To open up a restaurant is really difficult, it takes a lot of money, it takes a lot of effort, and it takes two or three years for it to build up. … But when you have a franchise, automatically you open the door, people start coming in,” he said.

But his other tenants convinced him the neighborhood would prefer a smaller “ma and pa” operation, and Avestini said he’s fine with that — he already hosts Mykonos Coffee & Grill in another of his North Minneapolis buildings.

“If I find somebody that can open up a nice restaurant over there or a coffee shop, why not?” he said. “As long as they can afford to pay the rent, something like that would be fine.”

In addition to a café, Avestini said he expects the building to hold a T-Mobile dealer, vintage clothing store, hair salon, tailor and dry store. (He owns Avestopolis Cleaners in North Minneapolis.) The toy store Kinoko Kids recently opened at 314 W. 38th St.

Peter Pan

Poutinen said founder Sally Swadden opened Peter Pan Dry Cleaners in the 1930s. Poutinen always wondered if The Walt Disney Company would come around and take issue with the dry cleaner’s name and Peter Pan cartoon on the sign.

“I thought, boy, can she really call it Peter Pan?” Poutinen said.

Her fears were alleviated when Disney filmed The Mighty Ducks movie in Minnesota. Peter Pan cleaned jerseys for the shoot, and no one said a word about the name.

“I stopped worrying about Disney,” she said.

Poutinen started out as a “counter girl” working part-time. The former owners treated her like family, she said, and suggested that she take over the business. Poutinen said she also considered buying the building long ago, but decided against taking on a mortgage at her age.

Customer Darryl Sellers said he's sorry to see the business go.
Customer Darryl Sellers said he’s sorry to see the business go.

The former owner never adopted perchloroethylene, which the Environmental Protection Agency later deemed a likely human carcinogen and Minneapolis banned in new machine installations.

“She wouldn’t switch, because she was afraid and she had a good instinct,” Poutinen said.

Instead the dry cleaner uses a hydrocarbon cleaning system and has received city recognition for green business practices.

Randy Loyd said he’s pressed clothing at Peter Pan for at least 25 years.

Randy Loyd at Peter Pan Dry Cleaners.
Randy Loyd at Peter Pan Dry Cleaners.

“I’m retired, and I still come over and press just to help her out,” he said.  “It’s been here a long time. It’s a fixture. I hate to see it go. … But you know, everything changes.”

Poutinen said although the business will close Sept. 2, she will stay onsite for a few extra days to help return clothing to customers.

“You’re closing? That’s so sad,” a customer said this week.

A staff member accepted the man’s clothing.

“We have time to get this done,” she said.