Putting On Her Big Girl Panties at Dry Cleaners in Carmel

Even though the framed needlepoint brought into her Carmel dry cleaning store proved too delicate for even the professionals at Classic Cleaners to risk hand cleaning it, manager April Tillberry keeps a photo of the piece on her cell phone. The needlepoint’s message might have been written just for her:

                           “Put  your big girl panties on and deal with it!”

"Big Girl Panties" Needlepoint

Just seven short years ago, the 26-year old, 267-pound young woman found herself in dire straits, with no means to support herself and her two children.  Lacking transportation and job training, April saw a bleak future ahead. Determined to find a way to “deal with it”, April resolved to make something of herself despite all the obstacles.  Putting on her “big girl panties”, she began working at a fast food restaurant.

As fate would have it, April’s mom, Lorraine Rork, manager at Classic Cleaners’  Bash Street store, needed a counter person. The amazing turnaround tale had begun…

In her first years with Classic Cleaners, April pared down to 135 pounds while making good on her promise to herself and her daughters to become self-sufficient. Tillberry became Classic Cleaners’ primary trainer, and manager of the Hazel Dell Carmel Classic Cleaners store. “I love my store,” she declares proudly. “This is where I needed to be. Classic allowed me to have a whole new life.”

Wednesdays are a special joy and a special challenge for April, because Wednesday is the “special” day at the Hazel Dell and 131st Street store, with skirts and slacks cleaned for $5.99 (instead of $7.19) and business shirts laundered for $2.20 (instead of the usual $2.69).    In between processing clothing brought in for cleaning and laundry, manning the desk, and organizing the store, April greets customers with a smile, calling each by name, finding out the story behind each stain.

April Tillberry, now a trim 33-year old, has taken on a big Classic Cleaners job and is certainly dealing with it in style.  Three current Classic Cleaners managers, Nancy Leonard, Jackie Wilson, and Blanca Martinez were all April’s trainees, and “April’s” Hazel Dell store is one of Classic Cleaners’  busiest and well-run locations.

Seven years and some 200 special Wednesdays later, April Tillberry has improved her life and career in a big way at Classic Cleaners.  (The only thing smaller are the “panties”!)

by Reb of the Classic Cleaners blog team