Ringing In The New Year With The Bell Family

Everyone has traditions. These are special times that stay with us over the years and bring us such great memories. Traditions are passed on and thrive whether business is bad or good. Sometimes the participants in the traditions may change through marriages, births or deaths but even when someone is missing, we can recall previous years with a smile on our face.

Many of you are from dry cleaning families. Your dad, uncle or grandfather owned a dry cleaning business. I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard of you coming in at a very young age and covering hangers, sweeping floors- doing whatever was appropriate for your age. This is a TRADITION. Many of you don’t bring your kids in because you do not want them to grow up in the business like you did. However, remembering those times now, I bet it brings a smile to your face. You can create new traditions for your children in and around your business.

One business that is carrying on a special tradition is Scott Bell of Bryan’s Cleaners. Scott’s plant is located in Pasadena, about five blocks from the route of the New Year’s Day Rose Parade. This business has been in the family for over 75 years.

When they were younger, Scott’s dad, Bill, would bring him and his three brothers to the plant. As they grew older, the boys started looking for other ways to make some spending money. Some customers had asked about parking in Bryan’s Cleaners lot in order to watch the parade.

Scott’s grandfather, Garnet Bryan, was never one to miss an opportunity. “Why don’t you boys sell the parking spaces in the lot,” Mr. Bryan asked. And 47 years ago, a tradition was born. On New Year’s Day, the brothers would arrive at the parking lot at 5:30 – 6:00 a.m. One would stand at the front of the lot, the other at the back. The others collected the money. Drivers parked their cars themselves. There are approximately 60 spaces and the lot usually filled up by 8:00 a.m. Then the boys would go home. The brothers actually looked forward to doing this every year. This is one of many things that helped bond the boys even more.

This past New Year’s Day, Scott was once again out there. With him were two of his brothers – Mike and Brian. “Every year, you can count on us being there. Some years, my sons, nieces or nephews join. We get there a little later now – by 7:00 a.m. and the lot is filled by 9:00 a.m. Then, we all head over to Coco’s for breakfast. We added the breakfast to the tradition many years ago,” Scott added with a smile.

Scott has another location on Foothill in Pasadena. It is actually on the parade route. “I have someone else who handles the parking there. I actually have to close the at business noon the day before the parade,” Scott said. Since the City of Pasadena closes the street, it is a perfect place to park a recreational vehicle. They come and park the day before. Just walk out the door and there is the parade!

Start thinking of some traditions of your own. It is never too late to establish some. I asked Scott why they continue to do this, it can’t be for the money. He answered, “tradition!

About Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith has been in the dry-cleaning industry for over 40 years. Her experience spans from owning a drycleaning business to working for Henderson Insurance Agency who specializes in the fabricare industry. She currently serves on the CCA Board as well as the board for So Cal Cleaners Association. She can be reached at jmshb@socal.rr.com.

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