Who remembers the song, “People in your neighborhood” by Sesame Street? It was meant to introduce young viewers to all the types of people they might meet as they walked around their neighborhood, as well as different careers that exist in each community. People that provide essential services, like mail carriers, cleaners, teacher, bus driver, etc… Every once in a while that song pops into my head as I am running errands, grabbing a coffee, getting some takeout for dinner, etc… and along with a sweeping sense of nostalgia, there’s a reminder of how nice it is to be part of a community.
We are lucky at Buffalo Rising. Everyday, we get to meet people in our neighborhood. We get to hear their stories, hear how they started and most importantly we get to hear how they want to give back, how they want to help their customers. We do our best to translate that to our readers, but we thought we would give something else a try – a little more of a profile into some of the businesses that have been tried and true to the Queen City.
First up, we are starting with an Elmwood village staple – Urban Valet.
“The cleaner is the one who knows; How to clean and press your clothes; He’ll take a jacket, suit, or vest; And clean it so you’ll look your best,” – Sesame Street
Recently, I brought my friend’s linen suit into Urban Valet’s Elmwood location to be cleaned. It was a relatively new suit, so this was its first time being cleaned. When we got it back, we noticed a nicely typed note, and a couple carefully stapled envelopes to the outside. My friend had worn the suit to a summer wedding, apparently, we forgot to remove the pocket square. Which we now found neatly pressed and folded in a white envelope. Apparently, we also failed to notice that the suit came with its own pocket square (now also cleaned and pressed and in a separate envelope), as well as a set of replacement buttons which were now also carefully organized. There was a touch of embarrassment on our part that it had been worn a few times without noticing these additional items. But overwhelmingly, there was a sense of gratitude, that such attention and care was paid to this one item. That time was taken to check the pockets, clean the items, and carefully organize and return them to us.
It’s that level of thoughtfulness that creates life-long customers.
And that sense of earned community trust is very important to owner, Eric Pyne. “At Urban Valet, we operate under the motto that you are only as good as the last product that goes out,” Pyne said.
Founded in 1995 by Eric Pyne after a career working with disadvantaged youth as a social worker. The original store was located on Bryant Street. Urban Valet has grown to over 35 full-time employees, three locations in Western New York, and even offers free pick up and delivery service. Under Pyne’s leadership, Urban Valet focuses on implementing innovative technologies, with an emphasis on ecologically friendly products, and most importantly, customer service and community involvement.
Urban Valet also works closely with Journey’s End Refugee Services, Inc. whose mission is to welcome refugees and assist them with the resources and support they need to become successful, active and contributing members of the Western New York Community.
“I’m incredibly proud of our staff, many of whom are some of Buffalo’s newest residents. Through the years, we’ve had the opportunity to hire a number of professional dry cleaners who have immigrated to Buffalo,” said Pyne, “it’s unfortunate that they have been displaced from their birth countries, but often are happy to work in their area of profession, with safer conditions and better technologies.”
“There is no foreseeable future where cleaning will be fully-automated,” adds Pyne, “there will always be a need to have a dedicated team of workers. And we are so proud that we have some of the most dedicated and hard-working staff.”
One service that you hope you never need is Fabric Restoration, when fire, water, smoke or mold damage your clothing, household items or cherished family heirloom pieces, Urban Valet can help restore these items.
Some of the reviews on their Facebook page are bittersweet to read,
We had a fire in our home last Friday. Kirk showed up first thing Monday morning to pick up everything necessary and again on Tuesday for the rest. By Wednesday he had all of our son’s stuff boxed and returned along with some of mine and my husband’s clothes that he rushed for us. They are holding on to the rest of our clothing once it’s cleaned until we can return to our home. This company is so professional and does an amazing job. We are so thankful for their services during this time! – Jenny Sondel
I have waited too long to Thank You for the more than excellent service we received from Urban Valet! Having a house fire only days after Christmas is hardly the way to celebrate the holidays, but my wife Cecile and I were so pleased with the thoughtful and caring manner in which you came to our aid. It was reassuring to have you handle our precious things as if they were as important to you as they were to us. You may be sure we will strongly recommend Urban Valet to others! Thank You! – Roger Leyonmark
We asked Eric, what was the best part of owning Urban Valet? He responded, “I’m proud of our community. I’m happy that I have had numerous opportunities to assist people in need, be it with our time or through donations. When I started Urban Valet, I didn’t realize that I would have the opportunity to give back in such significant ways.”