Village Green Cleaners celebrates 40 years' service

For $16 you can have your feather pillow cleaned inside and out.

Same-day dry cleaning is offered at no extra charge, provided items come in early in the day.

These are just some of the standard services at Village Green Cleaners in New Milford and Ship Shape Cleaners in Brookfield.

How does one clean a feather pillow? Paul Bagley, who owns both shops and has been in the business 53 years, explains:

"We open the pillowcase up, dump the feathers into a machine, clean them with an ultraviolet light, then blow them into a brand-new pillowcase ticking and sew it up. It makes it like a brand-new pillow."

This marks the 40th year the Village Green Cleaners, located midway along the Village Green, on the west side, has been a cornerstone of business in the New Milford village center.

Another hallmark of Bagley's dry cleaning businesses is that it uses an environmentally friendly solvent known as GreenEarth cleaner.

"It doesn't bleed colors. That's a key thing, and it's the only solvent that is completely nontoxic," he said.

"It is a very gentle cleaner, as opposed to a dry cleaning solvent made of perchloroethylene."

Bagley graduated in 1960 from Danbury High School and worked for his father, who ran Bagley's Cleaners on South Street in Danbury. "I worked for 13 years for my father, then I left and started on my own."

He bought his first store at 47 Main St. in New Milford in 1973.

Forty years later, it is still a thriving shop.

In 1976 he bought Ship Shape in the Caldor shopping center (now home to Kohl's and BJs). After losing his lease about 10 years ago, he moved it to 270 Federal Road.

Both shops offer free uniform cleaning services to those in the Armed Forces, clergy and local fire departments, said Christine Gaudio, who manages the Brookfield store.

"I've worked here for 36 years. They're wonderful people," she said of Bagley and his wife, Roberta Bagley, also an employee.

The Village Green Cleaners is open Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For information, call the Village Green Cleaners at 860-354-8780 or Ship Shape at 203-775-3355.

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Norm Cummings contributed to this story.