‘Stiff as a board’ is a good thing
“A cowboy came into the store and he told me he used to drop off 20-30 pairs of jeans for dry cleaning when he went on the Texas circuit,” Barker explained. “A light bulb went off and I thought of Texas Press starched jeans. It took off from there. Now they can relate with what they get in the States.”
Texas Press is actually the method that Barker created by watching, studying, and learning with a group of drycleaners from the United States that he belongs to. He imported the starch and the proper equipment to acquire the desired effect. Many other dry cleaners have copied the name illegally but have had little success matching Barker’s method.
“You have to have the right press to cure the starch into the jeans,” Barker explained. “The reasons the cowboys and cowgirls like it so much is that the starch impregnates the fibre and creates a seal, and dirt just slides off. You can actually slide through the mud, let it dry, and the dirt will slide right off when you rub it.”
After the jeans have been dry-cleaned at Dave’s they can literally stand up on their own. It takes two hands to open a pair of jeans after they have dry-cleaned and pressed. The heavy starched method is unique in Canada but commonplace in the United States.
“In that country everything is starched,” Barker laughed. “You have to ask specifically for no starch down there.”
During the Calgary Stampede, Drycleaning by Dave long nights and early mornings are normal for the 10 days. Barker is assisted by his daughter Candice Mills and her husband Jeff Mills, and even his 10-year-old grand-daughter Haylee McGonnigal helps.
“Our heads didn’t hit the pillow until three-thirty this morning,” Candice Mills lamented, July 7. “We normally start at six a.m., so we don’t get a lot of sleep during the Stampede.”
The company picked up clothes at the Stampede each day hauls them back to Cochrane for cleaning so they can be delivered the next day to contestants. Over the course of the Calgary Stampede, Drycleaning by Dave will clean over a 1,000 pairs of jeans and another 1,000 shirts. It picks up clothes twice a week at the Stampede all year round.