Betty Stoner looks forward to retirement after 30+ years  at Watts Cleaners in Rock Port, Mo.

After 30 plus years, Betty Stoner is hanging up the dry cleaning for the last time. Watts Cleaners, a Main Street staple in Rock Port and a well-used and well-liked business in Atchison County, is closing its doors September 27, 2017, at 5 p.m. (everything needs to be picked up by then and no dry cleaning will be accepted after September 22).
Betty said, “In everyone’s life there comes a time when we need to step back and take a look at our life. I have done a lot of praying and soul searching about this and due to some recent medical issues, I think it is time I retire. I always have said that I would be here until I was carried out, but I have decided that I want to do other things before that should happen.”
Betty and her husband, Jimmy bought the business from Virgil Watts in 1984. For more than three decades, Watts Cleaners has been the place to go when an item of clothing needed special attention. Whether a dress needed pressed or a skirt hemmed, a letter jacket needed patches sewn on, a suit worn only for special occasions needed to look like new again, or a police officer’s uniform or a student’s band uniform needed cleaned, Betty was the one to call. Watts Cleaners has been a one-woman show since 2008. Betty uses several machines, some older than the 30 plus years Watts Cleaners has been in business. But each one, with Betty’s guidance, still runs like the well-oiled (or in this case well-heated) machines they were built to be. Times have changed, however, and Betty’s business load has decreased with new clothing being made that doesn’t need dry cleaned or companies that provide their own dry-cleaning services for their workers. People have changed as well, with a more informal, comfortably attired-attitude. Most people only dress up for special occasions nowadays, verses years ago when men wore suits and ties and women wore dresses and hats every day of the week.
Though the business is closing, Betty and her daughter, Teresa Mertens, will continue to do sewing. You will just need to call Teresa at 660-744-5833 or Betty at 660-744-2190 (after October 16). Betty is also looking for anyone interested in purchasing the building and equipment.
Betty will have more time to spend with her family, including grandkids and great-grandkid, after the closing. But, she remarked, “I have enjoyed doing what I have been doing for everyone for the past 30 plus years and I will miss all of you that have trusted me to do your dry cleaning. Again, thank you for your support and friendship over the years and God Bless each and every one of you.”