“I absolutely had no intention of going into the family business,” said Sasha Ablitt, owner of Ablitt’s Fine Cleaners & Launderers, but after 12 successful years of running her parents’ shop, Ablitt is thrilled. This year marks the 30th anniversary for the popular business, which is an impressive feat; even more amazing is that her family has been in the dry-cleaning business for more than 100 years and for five generations.
Ablitt’s grandparents Alberta and Neil Ablitt moved to Santa Barbara in 1949, where they ran AwesomeCleaners until the early 1960s when they sold the business to Russell Krapft. After living for a decade in Mexico and Canada, Ablitt’s parents, Sue and Neil, decided to purchase the dry-cleaning business off Krapft when he retired. Unfortunately, the original name was no longer available, so they rechristened it Ablitt’s Fine Cleaners & Launderers in 1984. The shop exists in a building designed by the same architects who drew up the plans for the Granada Theatre, which was built in 1924. “We love to give people tours,” Ablitt said.
As a teenager, Ablitt helped her parents paint, build, and get their new business ready to open. Ablitt grew up, went off to college at UCLA, and then worked in business for many years with no intention of running the family operation herself. However, when her father expressed his plans for retirement in 2002, Ablitt told him, “Dad, you know, I’m gonna have a baby, and I want to move home. Give me first dibs on the business.”
Since then, Ablitt has not only maintained the premier reputation her parents built; she has also made eco-friendly upgrades to their dry-cleaning process. Reducing their carbon footprint was her major goal; to that end, Albitt’s Fine Cleaners now recycles all equipment and has reduced its trash output from 25 percent recycled to 75 percent. Ablitt’s has also introduced technology into the company. “You can go online, do a search on blue Levi’s, and know the first time we cleaned it and how many times we’ve cleaned it.” Customers can also electronically check their bills and balances and receive notifications when their clothes are ready.
Ablitt’s mission is not only to provide the best-quality service but also to offer an array of benefits to her clients, such as the concierge option, which picks up and delivers customers’ clothing throughout Santa Barbara. Ablitt has a passion for both her business and her team of employees, some of whom are coming up on their 20-year anniversary. “I believe if there’s a secret to Ablitt’s, it’s [that] we are focused on people. We have clients who have been here so long they are part of the family.”