Ludders Cleaners: A one-stop shop for dry cleaning, tux rental, and more
STURGIS – Ludders Cleaners has been a staple in St. Joseph County for dry cleaning services, tuxedo rental and more since the early 1970s. However, Dave Ludders said his family has been in the dry cleaning business for much longer.
“My family has been in the dry cleaning industry since the 1930s,” Ludders said. “My grandmother worked in a cleaners in Logansport, Indiana, way back in the early 30s. My dad, Bill Ludders, got started in the business right out of the military in the 40s in South Bend, Indiana, and went on to run American Laundries in Sturgis.”
After working at Emerson Cleaners in Sturgis in the mid-1960s, the elder Ludders bought a cleaning store in Three Rivers in 1971, and started his own store there, while Dave in 1978 ultimately purchased Emerson Cleaners and started a store there.
“In the late 1980s, there were five or six dry cleaning places in Sturgis, with five or six in Three Rivers, and my dad’s health was becoming challenging, so we closed the Three Rivers location, and he came to Sturgis to work with me until his death in 1991,” Ludders said. “Ten years ago, we re-opened the Three Rivers location on Main Street.”
Both of the Ludders locations in Sturgis and Three Rivers offer plenty of services. Those include dry cleaning, laundry, alterations and — most importantly for this time of year, with prom season in full swing — tuxedo rental. Ludders said that they have tuxedos available from Jim’s Formal Wear and Dunhill Tuxedo in many styles and colors.
“In St. Joseph County, we’re the most established company renting tuxedos,” Ludders said. “I’ve been measuring and fitting tuxedos since I was 16 working at Falvey’s Men’s Store, so we have a long history in the business.”
Along with renting tuxedos, if there are any problems with them, Ludders said there is always a seamstress on-site to take care of those issues.
Ludders said one of the reasons his stores have been around so long in the area is the loyal customer base he has. Ludders alluded to one customer in particular that embodies that loyalty.
“I oversee Camp Fort Hill in Sturgis, and we have a gentleman who turned 100 this year. He’s still sharp as a tack, and he was reminiscing to his family about when I was a skinny little kid just starting out 40 years ago, and he was a customer of mine. He still is a customer today,” Ludders said. “I’m very fortunate to have customers like that.”
Ludders’ location in Sturgis on East Chicago Road is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. The Three Rivers location on North Main Street is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or TRCNrobtoml@gmail.com.