Porterville shop hits the cleaners as legacy business

Local dry-cleaning business The Press Shop closes up shop, takes the status of a legacy business for its long-standing in the city

PORTERVILLE – After 41 years of providing dry cleaning service to the community of Porterville, Karen Jordan’s business has made it to the end of the clothesline.

The shop’s operations came to a close this year, but for its years of service to Porterville residents, The Press Shop was recognized as a legacy business honoree by the city of Porterville. When she first set up shop in the rural town in the 1970s, Jordan recalled seeing the city as a “small, nice community,” according to a city of Porterville news release.

“I’ve been through a lot of ages in this town,” Jordan said via news release. “I liked where we were, right in the thick of Main Street’s small-town charm.”

Jordan was granted a certificate of recognition for The Press Shop at the Porterville City Council meeting on March 21. The certificate was presented by the city’s mayor Martha Flores. These certificates are given through the city’s Legacy Business Recognition program, which focuses on celebrating local shops that have reached the end of their business endeavors after having a long tenure in the city.

According to city staff, the program has only recognized three businesses thus far, including Billiou’s and Hoagie’s in 2018 and, now, The Press Shop.

“The city of Porterville recognizes the perseverance and grit necessary to remain steadfast in business ownership and operation, especially in a quickly-changing business world,” assistant city manager Jason Ridenour said. “As such, the Legacy Business Recognition program seeks to celebrate long standing local businesses.”

During the presentation of the certificate, city staff shared the history of The Press Shop. Afterwards, Jordan took a moment to recognize team players who helped with her 41-year-long business trajectory before it wrapped with a long and successful run.

Jordan made the decision to close the doors of The Press Shop early in 2023, according to the city of Porterville. From the beginning, she worked closely with her husband, LeRoy Jordan, to ensure the establishment was well maintained. When LeRoy passed away in 2019, Jordan continued running The Press Shop with the help of her loyal employees.

With the business’ closure, Jordan is grateful for the community that welcomed her many years ago. According to the city, Jordan said she plans to spend her time traveling after decades of focusing on The Press Shop full-time.

In its time, The Press Shop, formerly located at 12 W. Olive Ave., provided valuable dry-cleaning services to the community from downtown Porterville. Each year, over 4,000 customers enjoyed a variety of services, including pressing, steaming, laundry, alterations and care for draperies and leathers. On average, the shop’s team was composed of six workers who processed over 80,000 items and completed 19,000 pounds of laundry in a single year.

The origin of her business started in 1977, when Jordan moved to Porterville from Southern California. At the time, she wasn’t familiar with many people in the area; but it was in the small town that she met her second husband, LeRoy. A native to Porterville himself, LeRoy helped Jordan as she settled into the community. After a few years of getting to know more of the community, she continued to fall in love with the close-knit community the city is known for, according to the news release.

Coming into the city, Jordan hoped to work in a local dry-cleaning shop because worked in the industry since she was a teenager. In 1982, she started working part-time at The Press Shop. She wasn’t aware that former owner Charles Spencer was getting ready to sell his business.

After only 2 months of working there, Spencer asked Jordan if she was interested in buying the business. Jordan and LeRoy purchased The Press Shop without a second thought. Jordan had another job with the Porterville Developmental Center at the time to focus her energy on her new business venture.

The Press Shop quickly became a family business as Jordan’s daughters and grandchildren worked there throughout the years. However, hiring local team members was a high priority for Jordan, and with the work experience, her employees gained customer service skills, which they later applied in other organizations.

The Press Shop’s store manager, Toshia Escalera, worked there for over 20 years. The presser, Sandra Villaseñor, was employed there for 15 years. Jordan’s daughters, Kim Marler and Stephanie Juereca, have gone onto management roles at other local Porterville businesses.

According to the city, it was the sense of community from the city of Porterville that motivated Jordan to become involved with helping others. When she wasn’t dedicating her time to The Press Shop, Jordan was a member of the Porterville 20-Ands Club for 30 years before it disbanded some years ago. In the club, she helped fundraise scholarships that benefited students who attended Porterville College after high school.

Although the city of Porterville has grown in size from a population that was ranging under 20,000 when Jordan first took residence there, she said it still retains its charm, according to the city of Porterville. She said that is something that can’t be found everywhere.

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