Safety first, in dry cleaning and everything else

March 15, 2020

Little things make big difference in personal clothing style

Mar 1, 2020

Clothes represent your personnel style -- whether you want to put out to the world that you are a successful business person or you are into working out and wear athleasure wear all of the time.

It is the first thing people see when they meet you and immediately, even subconsciously, they make a determination about you based on what you are wearing. That is what I think is so great about clothes and style. You really don't have to keep up with the latest trends; you only need a few classic pieces to have a great wardrobe.

Little things like adding a nice sport coat to a T-shirt and jeans can change the outfit from shoddy to dressed for success. We had a cowboy come into the store the other day to have a vest fitted. Just that one addition to his outfit made all of the difference. I think adding a button-up vest to many country style outfits really makes the outfit work better. Little things like that can quickly dress up an outfit.

We recently have seen a few of the new Magnaclick shirts. These are the coolest new invention in clothing I have seen lately and they really press out nice. These shirts look like standard button-up men's shirts; howeve,r they use magnets instead of buttons down the front and on the sleeves. They button themselves but still look like a really nice dress shirt. The magnets are built into the shirts and when worn it looks like a nice button-up.

I'm sure it was invented for people who have a difficult time buttoning their shirts, but I think it is the future of dress shirts. No more worrying about that random broken button. The shirt still will close and function correctly. I had to play with the first one I saw for at least 10 minutes because as soon as the magnets get close it buttons the shirt all the way up like magic.

The ones I have seen have mostly been from a company called Van Heusen; however, I think there are several brands making this type of shirt now. It looks like you can get them from Men's Warehouse, Kohl's and JCPenney's I would recommend checking them out if you are in the market for a new shirt.

One of my absolute favorite expressions of personnel style is the automobile. I think the car you drive says a lot about your personality, maybe as much as your personal style. I always go for some sort of sporty old German or American car. My biggest concern when purchasing it is definitely style and how big a grin it puts on my face when I get into it and start it up.

The next thing I look for in an automobile is how well it will hold its value. Many of the older cars, if you pick the right one, you can drive for three, four or five years and sell them for your purchase price. This is rare with newer cars except for things like the Ford GT or Raptor.

You might also find some of the Shelby Mustangs only depreciate a small amount over the first few years. Right now the Toyota Four Runner seems to not depreciate much over the first several years. Buying one a few years old is almost the same as getting a new one. Either way, how you decide to present yourself is important even if just to make yourself feel better about you.

Stories are what make the world go around

Feb 23, 2020

I think everybody has some sort of dream when they grow up. Some people know from the beginning when they pick up that guitar or write that first essay that they are destined to be writers or musicians.I think the rest of us find out through trial and error.

I knew, even when I was in high school, that I wanted to experience the world and the easiest way to do that was enlist in the military. I also had dreams of using that experience, and then moving to New York and living in the Soho arts district to write the next great American novel.

I remember reading Jack Kerouac and Mark Twain and thinking, "Man, these guys have lived the life." I remember reading a great article about Jack Kerouac and how he would travel the road and come back to write his next novel. He would write the first draft all in one sitting and his wife would change his sweaty shirt and mop his brow while he wrote sometimes for more than 24 hours.

I loved that Mark Twain took his pen name from the riverboats he had ridden on calling out the correct depth of 12 feet that the boat needed to clear the bottom. I think I love stories, and that is what first pushed me toward owning a business. When I was in college, studying the different business successes and failures was one of my favorite parts.

Steve Jobs basically beat out Microsoft on the iPod by making his headphones white. The Zoom and the iPod were both about the same product, but I bet most people haven't heard of the Zoom. The Hilton hotel story of Conrad Hilton coming back from WWI with $5,000 to invest. He originally wanted to purchase a bank, and when that fell through, he bought a small hotel in Cisco, Texas, during the oil boom.

The rooms changed hands so fast he could rent them up to three times in a twenty-four-hour period. He turned the dining room into more rooms just to meet demand. Since it was doing so well he had the opportunity to expand and purchase many more hotels over the course of his life.

I think those fascinating stories is what attracted me to Doche Cleaners. This is a staple of the Amarillo area. It was started in 1924 by the Doche family and has served the Amarillo area for nearly 100 years. I believe it's one of the oldest businesses in Amarillo.

The daily coming and going of so many Amarillioans into my business is great. I get to hear stories of what is going on in town, and each one of them is interesting to say the least. We appreciate the support and the opportunity to hear how life is on the High Plains.

Valentine's Day special day with unique history

Feb 9, 2020

The Valentine's holiday is nearly upon us. Which means it is time to get ready for that special occasion. From making dinner reservations and buying that special someone a gift to the most important thing on the agenda. Picking out the perfect outfit and taking it to the cleaners to be pressed. There is nothing better than a freshly pressed suit or dress.

Just walking out the door it inspires confidence and a little swagger to everything. The story of Valentine's is an interesting one because there are so many different possibilities that we think inspired the first Valentine's. There are at least three saints the Catholic church recognizes that could be the patron saint of Valentine's. One story is of a priest during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II. Claudius decided during his reign that single men made better soldiers than married ones so the story goes he outlawed marriage for young men who were of fighting age.

Valentine in this version refused the rule and continued to marry young lovers. His defiance however is eventually discovered and Claudius ordered him put to death. The second story is about St. Valentine of Terni. According to legend he was put to death for trying to help Christians escape Roman prisons. The story goes that they were treated unfairly and often beaten and tortured. Unfortunately, Claudius II is also credited with putting this saint to death, ordering him to be beheaded outside the gates of Rome. The last legend of the patron saint of Valentine's has our hero of love imprisoned in the Roman prisons where he fell in love with a young girl.

The jailer's daughter is thought to have been this young woman. The story goes that while in prison he signed a love letter to this young woman "from your Valentine," which many people still use to sign Valentine's Day cards with to this day. Another legend dealing with Valentine's is that Christians decided to put it in February to help ease the transition from Roman religious holidays to Christian. Specifically, the pagan holiday of Lupercalia.

America has another person to think for the popularity of Valentine's. Her name is Esther Howland. She was given an elaborate Valentine's card from Europe from a potential suitor and decided she could make a better one in America just as nice but much cheaper for the average Joe to buy. She made several samples and enlisted her brother as a salesman. He went out and they thought that a few hundred dollars of sales would make the whole venture worth it but his first year he returned with over five thousand dollars of orders. She set up an assembly system using local women to prepare the raw materials at their houses and brought them to the plant to be put together as the cards. She eventually branched out and made cards for other holidays including Christmas and Birthday cards. The company went on to gross more than 100,000 dollars a year. She eventually sold out to one of her competitors George Whitney to help take care of her sick father.

As a young man I remember the fun of going on Valentine's dates. Having to wash the car and pick the poor girl who decided to go with me up at her parents' house. Meeting the parents or even having to sit and have actual conversations with them while waiting on my date for the evening. There is nothing better however than getting dressed up and having a reason to go out. Today it doesn't seem as worrisome an event so it is much more fun.

Super Bowl offers more than a chance to watch the game

Feb 1, 2020

Today is Super Bowl Sunday and I hope everybody got their favorite team jersey dry cleaned and pressed this week. They look so much better afterward if you haven't ever had them done.

We weren't overrun this year with jerseys like in years past so I imagine the teams playing are not as popular in Texas as others have been in past years. I always cheer for the Cowboys, although that has been an effort in futility these last few years.

Hopefully, the commercials this year will be really good and make the party worth going to, and if not, I know the party, at least for me, will be worth it. We usually watch it with my sister and parents so the company will be good.

If there is one thing the Army takes seriously, it is the Super Bowl. I have been on numerous deployments where the U.S. military suspended all non-essential operations so as many of the soldiers could watch the game as possible. My first Super Bowl while deployed was in Kosovo. They made a huge meal at Camp Bondsteel and brought in televisions and projectors so the game was playing in all of the common areas.

I think we all got together and repurposed several boxes of ice cream sandwiches, and even though I don't remember who played, I do remember the camaraderie and fun we had. I'm not sure if the NFL realizes that the Super Bowl brings America together like few events. I know, at least for my family, it rates higher than any Olympics or other game and the military feels the same way.

I also remember about a year into the invasion into Iraq, we didn't have water to take showers or wash our clothes with for weeks, but we did have televisions brought in to watch the game. This was a slightly different environment than Kosovo because Iraq was still a pretty hairy place to be in at the time. Not only did you have to worry about getting into small-arms skirmishes and IED's (which we called roadside bombs), but Iraqis shoot into the air for celebratory fire.

What goes up must come down, and several people were injured this way. I remember one guy was laying on his cot in and a bullet went through the roof of the tent an got him in the rear. This led to many many quotes of Forrest Gump: "Then something just bit me. They called it a million dollar wound, but the Army must keep that money cause I haven't seen a penny of it yet."

No matter where you are and what is going on, the game brings people together, which is something this nation seems to need. So no matter which team you are rooting for or maybe neither one, hopefully everyone will have a good time and be able to look back on spending time with their friends and family with fond memories.

In the end, it doesn't really matter who is playing because the togetherness is what is important.

One good prank often deserves another

Jan. 18, 2020

We have some of the best customers, even when they pull a great prank on us. We have this customer who came and picked up one of his orders. While he was in the shop he asked what we would charge to clean his chicken suit. This is not a question we get asked every day, as I'm sure you can imagine, so we quoted him a price we thought was fair.

He agreed and said he would bring it in next time. The next time he came in we asked about the chicken suit. He advised us that a friend of his had borrowed it and ruined it. Our employees are some of the best and thought it would be funny to attach some feathers to the outside of his order bag as a memorial to the destroyed chicken suit.

Everybody had a good laugh when he picked up his order and we thought that was the end. We were wrong as retaliation came sooner rather than later. A few weeks later we received this email from our website:

Good afternoon!

A few weeks ago I dropped off a handmade comforter to be cleaned. I had forgotten to ask if you could repair a small rip in the material when I dropped it off. Due to this rip, it appears that a large number of feathers flew out of the comforter as it was being cleaned. Normally, this would not be a big deal to me, but these feathers were plucked from exotic western Peruvian peacocks. The feathers are highly valuable due to their many rainbow colors, water resistance, as well as their gentle touch. My hope is that you did not throw these feathers away and that I will be able to stuff them back into the comforter. Please give me a call and let me know if this option will fly with you.


Rooster Eggelston

This, of course, turned into hours of my wife and I looking through all of the recent comforter orders to find a Rooster Eggelston who didn't exist. We searched the records and racked our brains to try and figure this one out. Several days later the aforementioned customer came in with a new order and asked if we had received an unusual email which he had sent. Once the dots were connected we had a good laugh with the customer. Touche, customer, touche.

Comforters are some of the hardest items to get clean in a home washer. Despite what the washing machine companies want you to believe most machines are not big enough to really clean comforters. If you take the comforter out of the washer and it is still dry in the middle it didn't even remotely get clean. Our machines are much larger and can get them cleaner than any non-commercial unit. Comforters collect all kinds of bacteria and need to be cleaned about once a month to keep them in top shape.

Nothing like childhood memories of the Panhandle

Jan. 10, 2020

Growing up in the Texas Panhandle is an unusual experience. I remember not having much to do and being jealous of people who lived in Austin or Dallas. Having kids of my own, now I see the same look in their eyes that says we have so little to do here I can't wait to get to the big city.

With my oldest daughter now officially an adult (well, sort of, we as a country can't decide on a specific age to call someone an adult), I know she cannot wait to leave the Panhandle and go to the big city. My contention is that she is absolutely wrong and looking back on my childhood there is nothing the big city offers that isn't trumped by the Texas Panhandle.

I remember being so close to New Mexico and Colorado that many ski trips throughout my life included skiing the Rockies, which prepared me to ski the Alps while we were in Germany. Some of my fondest memories involve horses, which most big-city kids probably don't get the chance to ride.

You will have to excuse me. Every cowboy story in my arsenal is narrated by Sam Elliott. If I branch off into a dude story, that is why. I remember one time I was probably my youngest daughter's age of 7 or 8. My parents and I went riding with some friends of theirs in some canyon or creekbed.I don't remember where.

Now as a kid I had an old horse they let me ride. He was a big white beast of a horse that I loved and feared about the same amount. He was mostly gentle, and I can remember riding him hundreds of times. He was blind in one eye so I called him "One-eyed Jack" even though he still had both eyes.

While we were riding, I think it was pretty late in the day and we were getting ready to start heading back to the cars to get the horses loaded up. Something spooked Jack. Now you can't tell with God's ornery beasts of the Texas Panhandle if it was a leaf, stick or snake. He took off as fast as his giant legs would carry him through this creekbed.

I was holding on for dear life not knowing what to do, and the adults were chasing us yelling at me to stop him. I was small enough that Jack sometimes forgot I was up there and would try to roll in the mud or whatever it is horses want to lay on their backs for. When he did this I would jab him with the end of the reins to make him remember I was up there.

As he barreled down this creekbed, I was pulling back on the reins as hard as my little arms could and jabbing him with the slack on the other side of the reins. To no effect of course. My mother decided to pull her horse perpendicular to us in front of where we were headed. Jack not being able to see out of one eye didn't stop but ran through her horse without missing a beat.

I was knocked out of one stirrup and remember hanging onto the pommel for dear life with my entire body hanging off the side of Jack like a stuntman in a western film. Finally, my dad caught us and told me to just let go, which I did, sustaining minimal to no injury hitting the dirt. He reined Jack in and since I didn't want to ride that darn horse any more that day he carried me on his shoulders no telling how far back to the trucks.

That was a good day in the Texas Panhandle.

Koen: New Year's brings reminders of resolutions, superstitions

Jan. 3, 2020

Don't do laundry on New Year's Day or a member of the family will wash away during the coming year. Another is doing laundry on New Year's Day will wash a year of good luck down the drain.

I hope there is no truth to these because I was doing several loads of laundry on New Year's Day. Don't do laundry on New Year's Day or you will have more laundry than usual all year.

That would be great. I would love to do more laundry than usual this year. Finally the last laundry New Year's superstition I know is to wear something new on New Year's Day to increase the likelihood you will get new clothes this year.

I didn't follow most of these, so hopefully this will still be a great year.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaders and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Look for attention to detail when seeking a dry cleaner

Couture clothing is special and needs expert care to keep it looking its best. I read a great article several years ago about socialites in New York and what they do to get their items cleaned and pressed.

They have many of the designers in New York, and several of them work directly with their favorite dry cleaner. Yet many of the local socialites will still send their dry cleaning to Paris or L.A. Sometimes a specialty silk blouse can cost between $6 to even $70 to properly be cleaned and pressed. I have cleaned many interesting blouses since we got involved in this business.
One of our customers recently brought in a heavy beaded blouse for us to clean. We did so without incident; however, it had to be hand cleaned and pressed from start to finish. I walked it through the entire process ensuring it was cleaned properly. Sometimes as a dry cleaner with specialty items that is what you have to do to ensure it is done the way you want it to be.

I am working on an old military class A jacket for a local veteran. It was wadded up and put in a shed after his service was done. It will take quite a bit to get it back into shape and presentable. With the cold weather coming on, it is time to get out the long wool coats. You would be amazed how much better they can look when they are properly cleaned. We dry clean them and then delint the fuzz off and press them. It is a time-consuming process, but they look great once it is done.

There are an inordinate amount of dry cleaners out there, and it is tough to decide which ones are the better ones. I would recommend looking at some of the clothes on the rack before dropping your clothes off. Look for double creases in the pants, shine on the suits, and missing or cracked buttons.
A good cleaner will replace missing or cracked buttons before the customer has to bring it up. Shiny suits or pants are a result of improper cleaning and pressing and should be brought to the cleaner's attention if it ever happens. Something that customers can do for arm pit stains on shirts is to rinse them out using one part vinegar one part clear dishwashing soap and six parts water prior to putting them in the laundry bag.

This will help your local dry cleaner get out the rest of the stain when they clean them. One question I frequently am asked is can we get out blood. One customer one time brought in her husband's favorite sweatshirt, put it on the counter and asked if we could get the blood stain out.
I replied of course we can. She proceeded to tell me her husband had severely cut his head and they were on the way to the emergency room for stitches. I guess that was one of his favorite sweatshirts to bring it to the dry cleaner before going to the hospital.
Sometimes a good shirt is worth it.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaders and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Colorful Closets event brings joy to local children

This has been a really tough week for me. If you read my column often, you know the one thing that drives me crazy is having to cover the delivery route. I'm just not as good at it as my normal delivery person is.

There are time frames you have to meet and areas you have to know very well. I don't get to do it often enough to have the best routes memorized and the GPS on my phone is only so good. Then, of course, it got really cold and wet, which makes the job that much more difficult.

However, just as I was starting to get down a little bit, Google sent us a really nice gift for being a highly rated veteran-owned business. It came in the mail and was a really neat coin in a box. I assume it is something they sent out in honor of Veterans Day. Being highly rated online means a lot for a small business, and having some anonymous online business recognize that is really neat.

This week is the Colorful Closets benefit. They are a great organization here in Amarillo. They provide clothing for Amarillo children who need it. Every year they host a benefit where they showcase some of the children they have helped and have them walk down a runway showing some of the great outfits Colorful Closets can provide.

We do everything we can to help support this organization because we truly believe in their mission statement. "To collect, organize and distribute clothing for children and adolescents throughout the Amarillo area. We aim to meet the needs for those in our community, while also ministering to them by spreading the love of Jesus Christ."

They have through local donations been able to provide children with outfits to 44 of the 55 schools in the Amarillo Independent School District. My wife and I look forward to this benefit every year because it is a fun time.

The organizers always do a great job, and it is usually packed with local folks who want to make a difference in the community, which is harder than it sounds. We have the great pleasure of cleaning a lot of the children's clothes prior to their outfits being given out.

The organizers take their time and match up several outfits for each child. It is not some random selection of clothes, but each piece is picked to make individual outfits for the children to enjoy and be proud of. I just cannot speak enough about how much I feel this impacts the children in our community in a positive way.

Time to get out the jackets and sweaters because we are getting our first cold weather of the year. As everybody who has lived in Amarillo for any time knows, there is no telling how the weather is going to be not only day to day but hour to hour.

Wake up in the morning to 25 degrees and by noon it will be 75. That means layers are an important part of Amarilloans' style of dress during this time of year. We clean jackets, hoodies and sweaters aplenty this time of year, and it always amazes me all of the different cleaning techniques they require.

From hand wash reshape and lay flat to dry to dry clean only, there are a hundred ways to clean sweaters. As a young guy in the military, I didn't know this and washed all kinds of wool blankets and things shrinking them down several inches or ruining their color. I, like many other young guys, just didn't know there is a better way. Thankfully, I know most of the tricks nowadays and get excited when a new challenge emerges.

This weather also reminds me of my time in Germany, specifically training in Grafenw�hr, which is a place known for the large military training area outside of town. I remember after Sept. 11, we received orders to go to Iraq and, as a prerequisite, we went for 30 days of training there.

At the time it was winter and blisteringly cold, the type of cold that makes your bones hurt when you are in it too long. We had a running joke about going to the coldest area on the planet to train for the hottest. It was so cold that our LSS, which is camo netting that goes over tents to camouflage them, froze several times with too much weight from the snow and ice.

Our teams had little four-man team tents, and we would turn on little propane burners about 15 minutes or so before having to get up so the tents would warm up enough to crawl out of our sleeping bags and get dressed. These were all little tricks that did us no good once we went on our real mission in Iraq because there the trick was to try and stay cool enough you didn't overheat.

We didn't have much support in the early days of the Iraq invasion and we were limited to one bottle of water and one MRE (meal ready to eat) a day. The MREs are made with about 3,000 calories so one is enough to survive. However, we went several months without being able to wash our clothes.

I can't tell you how much I wish we had come across a laundromat or dry cleaner in those early days. Oh well, thankfully, now whether it is cold or hot, we have access to running water, heat and air-conditioning. I also know now how to properly clean almost any garment so dirty, shrunk or discolored clothes are no longer an issue.

The dry cleaning industry is a relatively small business. Most are owned by local people who try their best every day to clean and press customers' clothes to the utmost of their ability.

There are only about six families in Amarillo that own dry cleaners and one chain. It is an exceedingly difficult and interesting endeavor because, unlike most retail businesses, the service we provide is on something the customer owns.

I had a wonderful conversation the other day with another dry cleaner owner from one of the smaller communities around Amarillo. She is a second-generation dry cleaner who has been in the business her entire life. She is around 70 now and cannot quite handle the day-to-day heat and running around that is required by the nature of the business.

She is planning to sell her business and, I assume, retire although we did not discuss her future plans. We did, however, talk about how the business has changed in the past 50 years. At one time a trip to the grocery store or the movie theater was a reason to put on a suit and tie or a dress. Now when people leave to run some errand it seems to be lucky if they change out of their pajamas.

That has changed the amount of formal attire that we dry clean. It has become nearly 50-50 jeans and button-up shirts and suits and dresses. I could tell the love and passion she has for the business. The care in her voice over how to decide if draperies are fit to be cleaned or if they are too sun damaged to even try. We discussed her equipment and how well she has tried to keep it working perfectly so it cleans and presses as it was designed.

This is one of the hardest things to do as a dry cleaner. There are several presses designed to press different garments and every one of them has many small internal parts to be maintained correctly. The smallest amount of water or contaminant in the air lines can make a press not get the wrinkles out of a garment the way it should. Her father started the dry cleaner and it sounded like he had the right ambition in doing the best possible job he could.

I am not sure when she took over, but we talked about how you have to take pride in everything you do in this business. How you have to deep clean everything at least once a week in the plant and store areas to keep the lint off of the ceiling and to keep all of the presses functioning perfectly. Unfortunately, this is a problem industrywide.

We also discussed how advertising has changed over the years. At one time you could put a coupon in the local paper and see a steady return on that investment, Now it is all almost internet based. People will go to the website, read reviews or look for coupons. The attempt to advertise in a physical way is now almost nonexistent. Over her 50 years in the business she has seen it all and I really enjoyed getting to talk to her about our business and just meeting somebody else who looks at this with love and enjoyment.

It is not just some franchise that an owner owns and occasionally has meetings with a manager about last month's profits but something special that we do every day that can be generational and eventually passed to a new family to love for the next 50 years.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

This has been a crazy week. The rain finally came and it has been a nonstop flood. This means for dry cleaners it has been a little slower because people don't really want to venture into the rain for dry cleaning unless they have to. As a small business owner, I know to expect this, however, I still start to wonder are we doing the best we can are the customers satisfied?

Something I have learned lately is that the largest outdoor laundry in the world is located in India. Specifically, Mumbai, India.

I have known for a very long time that some of the best dyed fabrics come from India in vibrant reds, blues and golds. But I had never thought of how they cleaned their clothes. This laundry was constructed in 1890 to clean clothes and linens from the local hotels and hospitals.

It consists of approximately 200 wash pens which look like concrete cubicles filled with water. They are individually manned with one launderer family or dhobi who wets the clothes in the soapy water and then beats them against a rock for the agitation to clean the clothes. It is called Dhobi Ghat and it was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest outdoor laundry.

They not only clean laundry for the local hotels and hospitals but some of them go door to door and clean for the local residences. They then dry the clothes on miles of clotheslines, press them and return them to the clothes owners.

One of the ways they remove stubborn stains is to boil the clothes in large vats of caustic soda which I can't imagine how they remove the clothes without any accidents or people falling in. They iron the clothes with large wood burning irons I am sure are not as easy to use as the steam irons we use.

I would love to visit this place someday because the old traditions used are very fascinating to me. With all of the advances made to cleaning clothes even here in America it is still a very manually intensive procedure. By the end of the day we are all a little beat up and I cannot imagine how hard it is to manually clean each individual item and then dry and press them with large heavy irons.

I worked with many Indian people while in Afghanistan and learned some really interesting things about their culture but unfortunately the Dhobi Ghat never came up. I guess people are just used to how things are done in their culture and something as mundane as laundry doesn't usually spark a conversation.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

The end of September with the coming of fall and the brisk air of October around the corner always reminds me of Germany.

My family and I lived there for four years first in Weisbaden at a little airfield in Giessen. As a young family I couldn't have asked for a better location to live. Germany is one of the most picturesque places on the planet full of large trees and cobblestone streets that meander in all directions.

The people are incredible friendly and will help you in any way they can and many times when they heard we were Americans they would buy us a beer if we were sitting outside at the local biergarten people watching and enjoying the cool fall day. The biergartens are one of the great German traditions and even though they are open during the summer, the fall is the time to really enjoy them.

You don't need a car in Germany. The public transportation system is phenomenal and if you are in a hurry there are taxi stands around every corner. Once you arrive in the area you want to be, the streets are set up to be able to walk everywhere much better than here in Texas. The open air malls which Germans call walkplatz's are so different than anything we have here in Texas.

I think one of the things that is hard for an American to wrap their head around is that in a lot of these European places the new part of town was built in the 16 or 17 hundred's so everything has this old world beauty about it.

So most towns shopping area is just one majestic building after another with cobblestone sidewalks barely separating them from each other. One of our favorite places to visit was this steak house in Friedberg. Friedburg has this castle up on a hill and down the winding main road to the castle we found this restaurant.

What was so neat about it was they would bring you your steak on this hot lava rock with several sauces and spices and you would cook the steak at your table while you ate it. Meals in Germany are not a time to eat and run unless you are at some fast food place which then many time Germans would stand up and eat.

There are no fast casual restaurants. When you go out to eat, it is an experience. Everything is made fresh to order and you will spend upwards of two hours eating. Germans never seem in a hurry to do anything except get from place A to place B. I guess it's because when on the unrestricted areas of the Autobahn, if you are only going 100 mph in the slow lane, an little old lady will pass you in her Audi station wagon and wonder why you are going so slow and impeding the flow of traffic.

Driving is different for Germans. It is a privilege and not to be taken lightly. It takes several years and hours of training to get a license and it can be taken away quickly. They also have much different ages for things. You have to be 18 to get a driver's license but 16 to drink beer. Which I think probably cuts down on DWIs, but I don't know the statistics. I would recommend anybody who can go and visit especially during fall and maybe Octoberfest it is well worth it and will be a very fond memory.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Last week was the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce annual barbecue cookoff, where teams of people from amateurs to professionals face off and cook some of the best barbecue around.

I think the competition is a neat idea, however, the best part is getting to see everybody and try all of the different takes on what the different meats should taste like. I know I enjoyed it so much I ended up with barbecue sauce all down the front of my shirt and needed several napkins to get it off my face.

I'm sure glad I didn't wear one of my favorite shirts, however, if you did and you are like me, there are several things you can do at home to try and remove the stains. Hopefully, you wore a synthetic material like nylon or polyester because stains are much more difficult to remove from natural fibers such as cotton or wool.

The most difficult thing about this type of stain is there are several parts to it. You have grease and proteins from the meats and possibly a tannin stain from the sauce. This incorporates almost all of the common stains into one stain.

This means you can remove, say the grease stain, and still have a spot from the protein or Tannin. If it is one of your favorite shirt, I would recommend taking it to your favorite dry cleaner. If not, there are several things you can try at home.

The first thing is to soak it for about an hour or two in a bucket of ice water. This is great for protein stains such as blood, and then wash regularly. I would also recommend some sort of over the counter pre-treater.

These are not nearly as good as the chemicals dry cleaners use, but they work much better than washing the garment alone. Soap by itself does a good job getting the clothes clean, but it is not a perfect science and they cannot put additives into the soap to account for all types of stains that may go into the laundry.

The teams at the cookoff did a fantastic job. I only wish when I try to cook ribs or brisket at home I could do half as good a job as even the amateurs did. Unfortunately, cooking is not really one of the things I am best at, although I give it the good old college try, as the saying goes.

With any luck, you can save your favorite shirt, and this gives you an idea what you may be looking at. If not, you can always take it to a dry cleaner. After the stain sets, though, it may be too late. Hopefully, everybody who wanted to go made it to the cookoff and had as much fun as my family and I did. If not, mark it on your calendar for next year because it is a great time and definitely worth attending. I know I look forward to it every year. Just writing this article is making my mouth water for next year.

As of this writing, I can feel the call to fall coming on.

The promise of cooler days and the changing of the trees with their kaleidoscope of colors. Wait, stop if you are reading this Sunday morning and it is as cool then as it is now. Run and grab a pumpkin spice latte. OK, now that is fixed. Let's continue.

If you read my column often, you know I live in a house with a wife and two daughters. So I get the extreme pleasure of having my fill of womanly things at all times. This means we have already started all things pumpkin spice and brought down the door wreathes with pumpkins and fall leaves on them.

Don't get me wrong. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. It marks the start of sweater season, which means dry cleaners will start to look like they threw up sweaters everywhere. Some are dry clean only but many are hand wash, lay flat to dry or hang dry. There are about a hundred special instructions for sweaters.

Shortly will be Halloween, which is always fun to dress up the girls in something special and try to make a memory. One year when my daughter was about 8 she wanted to dress up like Princess Leah, which meant I, of course, had to be Darth Vader. There is absolutely nothing more enjoyable than being able to run around yelling in my best Darth Vader voice "Leah, I am your father."

Even though I have had to endure such painful things such as playing with Barbie or having my nails painted the colors of the rainbow, which, if you forget to remove and show up with your nails painted to a military formation, will get you in trouble. Don't ask how I know this.

My girls all have their favorite action stars, which allows me to watch "Rocky" with my oldest I guess because Sylvester Stallone is still good looking enough for her to warrant sitting through some old movies with her dad. I remember one fall when we were stationed in Germany and my oldest was around 3 or so. I had spent several hours shining my boots making them perfect for the next day of riding police patrols on the base.

I had finally gone to sleep and my wife and daughter were still awake. My wife noticed our daughter kept going into the kitchen for some reason. So she grabbed the video camera and sneaked up behind her to try and catch what she was doing. We have a great video of her with her hair all crazy in her nightgown ready for bed, sneaking out the Bisquick with a spoon and slowly walking across the kitchen where my freshly shined boots were and pouring spoonfuls of the powdery substance into them with a slight mischievous grin on her face, knowing she was probably not doing something good but like all kids having to do it anyway.

The Tascosa drive in will shortly show their last movie of the season, which is always a bittersweet sendoff of summer. Shorts will go into hibernation and pants and jeans will come out as everyday wear. All too quickly fall will be over and winter's monstrous cold will invade, inducing mostly indoor activities unless there is snow on the ground which hasn't really happened here the last several seasons.

Oh, well, bring on the pumpkin spice and late night horror movies; let's enjoy the fall in all its picturesque glory.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

I read a great article about Chick-fil-A the other day. They are consistently ranked as the best in customer satisfaction in the fast food industry.

It is an interesting story on how they developed their particular brand of customer service. The founder, Truett Cathy, around the time they had reached 1,000 stores had visited a Ritz Carlton hotel and while he was there the employees responded to every request with those iconic words now associated with Chic-fil-A. "My pleasure." Two small words that have so much meaning packed into them.

Instead of you're welcome or something along those lines, they are saying it has been a pleasure to serve you. Something that is hard to train people on is the entire reason you have a job is at the discretion of the customer and every day whether you are tired or hungry or worried about your family the main thing is that it has been my pleasure to serve the customer.

In 2003, Chick-fil-A's COO decided to make my pleasure a mandatory saying for employees and the signature of the guest experience at the restaurant. I would say it has worked beautifully the company continues to grow by leaps and bounds and has 1,000′s of franchisee applications. I read somewhere onetime that it was easier to get into Harvard than to obtain a Chick-fil-A franchise.

Chick Fil A consulted with Ritz Carlton CEO Horst Schulz and brought him in to teach the operators and employees about customer service. They came up with four core values of customer service. Make eye contact, speak with an enthusiastic tone and stay connected to make it a personnel experience. Basically, customer service is not inherent like most companies believe it is but something that must be taught.

Especially in today's world where people have little interaction with each other and when they do many times half of the conversation is interrupted by cell phones or other technology. You can immediately tell the difference between walking into different fast food restaurants that Chick-fil-A feels like they care. The employees are always upbeat and seem to be on the ball. Service is fast and with a smile.

Dry cleaning is all about the service. I strive to have conversations with all of my customers and at least give them the greeting of the day and welcome them into my store. Some customers want to talk about their day for a while, which I love and find interesting and some just want to transact their business and be on their way.

Sometimes it's hard to tell which is which.

I have more than one location and sometimes it is difficult to keep employees on track to do the same, but with a little encouragement and motivation they will serve the customer to the best of their ability. I think this is a very interesting thought that we were meant to serve others and makes for some kind of contentment if you can realize that and apply it to all you do.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

October 2001 is when the United States invaded Afghanistan, so next month will mark the 18th year of U.S. forces in the country. To put this in perspective, the Vietnam War officially lasted 17 years and 4 months, making the war in Afghanistan the longest war in which we have participated.

We spend an average of $45 billion per year and nearly a trillion dollars overall with no clear end in sight. With a population around 37 million, this means we could have given every Afghan citizen approximately $27,000 or 2.1 million Afghani, making every Afghan citizen multi-millionaire. This doesn't consider the cost in U.S. lives which total 2,372 and 20,320 American wounded.

I bring all of this up because I wonder is it worth it.

I was in Afghanistan training the Afghan National Army for nearly four years, and in that time, I realized Afghans have a cultural issue we will never be able to overcome. There was an entrepreneurial Afghan while I was there who wanted to export fruit juice, specifically, pomegranate juice, which grows in abundance in Afghanistan.

He set up suppliers through local farmers to provide the pomegranates. He built a factory, hired and trained workers providing the local economy with much needed jobs and helping the general economy with money coming in through the U.K. and Australia.

He went to those countries and found vendors interested in selling his fruit juice. He had inspectors come in and establish his factory as compliant to be able to sell to those countries, which I bet was a long and arduous task.

Finally, he opened his factory and began production. Within about two weeks or so, other Afghans snuck in and planted a bomb, blowing up much of the factory and probably ending all the goals he wanted to achieve.

Another great example: We built the Afghan police force in the capital a headquarters to rival any police station in America. It has state of the art computer systems and everything else they could ever need. I think it cost the American taxpayer something like $15 million. They refused to use it and wanted the police station in another area so there are a few guards who look after the building, but it is basically abandoned.

Afghans do not really have a national identity. They don't relate to being Afghan. They think of themselves as being from the Helman province or whatever area or village they grew up in. This creates a large problem when establishing a military because they don't seem to care about the country. They will have battles, and whichever side wins, the remaining losers put on that team's uniforms and at least for a while that is where they are fighting.

So how do you win in this type of situation? I think the answer is you don't. There is a theory in "Star Trek" that they will not have contact with any society that does not achieve a certain point of technology on its own.

The reason for this is even if you give them the technology or money, they won't have advanced enough to use it responsibly. I think this is where Afghanistan is; we need to allow them the opportunity to establish their own government, culture, national identity and economy without our pushing them in what may not be the best direction for them.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

I had a customer ask me the other day if we clean Ugg boots. I let them know that we can. This made me think about all of the other services we offer that people just don't know about. I think people from all walks of life have the need for their local dry cleaner to properly clean something. From the fanciest wedding dress to an everyday T-shirt we can clean and press it and make you look the best that you can.

I think many people believe the dry cleaner is there just to handle their dry clean only garments and that is it. Dry cleaners offer so many other services to help make people look good or to save them the time and hassle of cleaning and pressing almost anything. A good example of this is bedding services. Have you ever stayed at a hotel and thought man that is the best night's sleep I have ever gotten? I would bet the hotel had their sheets cleaned and ironed. It makes a big difference in the quality of sleep when the sheets have been properly cleaned and pressed.

We also clean all sizes and types of comforters. Even though your comforter isn't typically touching you while you sleep it still gets dirty and needs to be properly cleaned at least once a month. Most people don't own a washing machine big enough to clean their comforters but if they take it to their local dry cleaner we can wash dry and fold even the largest or the smallest throw blanket. As a professional launderer and dry cleaner we have access to soaps and PH neutral water etc that can clean much better than most people can try in their homes.

We also do laundry wash and fold services for under garments and everyday casual wear. Since our locations are so close to several gyms we have customers that drop off their gym clothes for us to wash and fold so they can swing by and grab them fresh and ready to go the next day. We offer many services for other businesses such as cleaning and pressing napkins for restaurants or even cleaning the front mats to welcome customers into their business with a clean welcome mat. In the past we have worked out deals to clean entire wedding groups for the dress, tuxedos and clean and press all of the table clothes and linens. I bet if you can think of a cleaning service you want done your local dry cleaner can probable help and get it done right.

Sometimes I get the feeling when dealing with a new to dry cleaning customer they are uncomfortable because they do not know the lingo. Starch preference is a perfect example of this. We offer no starch, light, medium, heavy and extra heavy starch. This just depends on how crispy you want your laundered clothes to be. I have found most cowboys and welders want heavy starch because it offers a layer of protection to the clothes that will keep the stains from sticking. Whereas most businessmen prefer a lighter starch like a light or medium, which will still help and will keep the shirts and jeans looking pressed longer than no starch. When in doubt I say go with a light starch you can always move up but it is harder to move down.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

This week marks the 50th anniversary of a generation-defining rock concert. In the summer of 1969, approximately 400,000 people crowded onto the fields of farmer Max Yasgur's 600-acre farm in Bethel New York. The lineup of bands reads like a who's who of rock music for the era with performers like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, and the list goes on and on.

Many of these performers despite the rain and setbacks put on some of the greatest sets of their careers and it is accepted that this was one of the greatest rock festivals of all time. Although I'm sure the acoustics were not up to the task of having so many people actually hear the music with technology what it was in that era we still got soul splitting renditions of great music such as Jimi Hendrix version of The Star-Spangled Banner. It was a peaceful protest at a time when the country was mired in an unwinnable war. I think the arts are heavily influenced by what people experience on a regular basis, and Woodstock was one of the largest and last protests of a generation who grew up in the middle of the Vietnam War.

Fast forward 30 years and that is where my adventure begins. It was the summer of '99 and I just graduated from high school and as a graduation present my parents got me four tickets to Woodstock 99. Myself and two of my best friends who later were in my wedding loaded up in my mom's Suburban since none of us had a car that was big enough to transport four almost adults from Texas to New York and the adventure began.

We knew we had gotten to the East Coast when we stopped for lunch and my friend tried to order a hamburger with jalapeños. The kid at the counter looked confused so my friend tried again thinking maybe they pronounce the J in jalapeno. Suffice it to say this did not work. Apparently hamburger places on the East Coast just do not understand Texans' infatuation with the spice.

We arrived several hours before the bands began to play, found a spot and set up our tents. One thing I think people should realize because I think it is important for this story is my generation in the 1990′s did not have anything to rebel against except corporate greed, which really began to run amuck. This was during the Clinton administration and the economy was good we were not involved in any wars, but it was the time when CEOs began to make $100 million bonuses and prices for everything began to creep up to ridiculous levels.

The concert opened with the godfather of soul, James Brown, which every time I say his name I have to make the James Brown ghgh haa sound. His performance was of course spot on although by this time he was getting up in age and could only do three or four songs before bringing in a pinch hitter for a song or two while he took a break. The full lineup was just as iconic for my generation as the last Woodstock and maybe more so.

Bands like Metallica, Jewel, Alanis Morissette, Korn. There were three stages and one of my favorite acts was George Clinton. He made a surprise appearance on one of the small stages near midnight one night, which we accidentally caught, and it was up close and incredible. The small little side stages were mostly for lesser known acts. The final act was The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who, like the bands before them, played their best music and closed down the festival.

The three days of what was supposed to be a peaceful hippy lovefest reminiscent of the original became known as the day the 1990s died. Plagued by 100 plus degree days and $4 bottles of water with $12 frozen pizzas, the thing my generation hated was represented in full force, corporate greed. The crowd became unruly, burning anything that would burn and pillaging trailers full of band memorabilia and other knickknacks. Not surprising, I believe there is no longer a plan for an official Woodstock 19, but hopefully one day, somebody will do it again and do it right for whatever generation it is that will get to do it again.

Here's to the best rock concerts of all time and their importance to each generation.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Like going to the carwash, dry cleaning is a service designed to clean and polish your clothes. I assume these two businesses are similar because the services we offer are unique in a lot of the same ways. When you take your car to the car wash, you drop it off with the expectation that they will clean it in a manner appropriate to your car's paint and size etc. Dry cleaning is the same. You bring your clothes in and have every expectation that we will clean and press your clothes in the appropriate manner and they will be returned looking much better than they did when you brought them in.

This is true 99.9 percent of the time, but what happens when it is not true? Sometimes in dry cleaning even when the clothes are cleaned in the manner specified by the clothing manufacturer something happens such as the sides of clothing separating where it is glued together or a seam bursts. When things like this happen we can usually repair the article of clothing, especially in instances where a hem comes out or a seam rips but what happens when an article of clothing is accidentally ruined?

A good dry cleaner in this instance will try to find a reasonable reimbursement to make the customer happy. However, trying to find a compromise is sometimes difficult. Many dry cleaners will have specific claims info printed on receipts. We typically use the fair claims guide from the International Fabricare Institute. They conducted many studies of typical garments and determined what the life expectancy of each one is. Most people don't realize this, but a long life for a garment is five years with the typical garment only having a life span of about three years. A good example is a wool blazer its life expectancy is about four years with normal wear.

One of the things that makes dry cleaning and car washes different is a car is expected to last several more years than any article of clothing -- except maybe the Apollo 11 space suit worn by Neil Armstrong. It was composed of more than 21 layers of cloth consisting of neoprene and glass-coated threads designed to keep astronauts safe in the 260 and -280 degree temperatures found in space.

However, after 50 years even that has started to deteriorate despite being stored in the climate- and humidity-controlled storage in the Smithsonian. It took the team four years and approximately $700,000 to preserve this piece of history hopefully for the next 50 years. The process was not done to repair the suit in any way but to keep it from deteriorating further for future generations to see.

The suit was mostly hand stitched in 1969 so well that it was to remain air tight for the hours spent outside the space craft. I can't imagine how those seamstresses and tailors felt making such an iconic piece of American history at that time. I'm sure the suit was tested in all kinds of harsh conditions prior to being sent on the mission, but to think one wrong stitch or bad seam could have forever changed history with the pressurized suit loosing its function and failing while on the moon.

This didn't happen because the team that worked so tirelessly to ensure the perfection and quality needed to keep the astronauts safe. On the 25th anniversary of the moon landing, Neil Armstrong was quoted as saying about the suit. "Its true beauty, he wrote, "was that it worked. It was tough, reliable and almost cuddly. To all of you who made it all that it was ... thanks and congratulations."

I think it is amazing we have preserved this for so long, especially knowing that clothing, no matter how well made, can only last so long. It is a testament to many great people that this has been preserved for so long and is still on display at the Air and Space Museum.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

This has been an interesting week. I had to clean and press several wedding dresses this week so I assume August is a big wedding month. Most people go and get photos made prior to the wedding and need their dress cleaned and pressed to be ready for the wedding. I would recommend anybody who does this to be careful of the train and hem, especially if you go to the canyon to get it done. The red clay dirt around here is difficult to take out completely and once it sets in it is almost impossible.

Amarillo has many great places to take wedding photos. I think one of my favorites is Cadillac Ranch. Something about the old cars sticking out of the ground makes the wedding dresses look elegant in contrast. We have the Botanical Gardens, which can make a wonderful photo session. One thing I have noticed on weddings is there are two kinds of brides. One that plans the wedding to the smallest detail and gives plenty of time to make everything happen and one that waits until the last minute so everything is a rush to just get it done on time.

When it comes to cleaning and pressing a wedding dress, the more time allowed the better. Wedding dresses are tough to clean and tougher to press well. We typically only do them on Wednesdays and Thursdays because those are usually our slowest times for regular clothes. We only bring them out to process when everything else is out of the plant so they have nothing to snag on or get bunched up in. I will say bringing out the wedding dresses makes us excited. We all enjoy looking at the different pretty designs, especially on some of the older ones we do.

My oldest daughter has decided to get married. If you read my column regularly, then you know she just graduated from high school last year and is in the process of starting college. I think the timing is probably not the best, however, the man she has chosen seems to be a great guy with lots of ambition just like my daughter.

They have dreams of being doctors. He wants to be an anesthesiologist, and she wants to follow in her grandfather's footsteps and be a dentist. I couldn't be more thrilled. At the end of the day, I think this could be a great plan, although I have an innate fear of being a grandad myself before I'm 45, which I guess is on the bright side because if that happens I will have plenty of energy to keep up with a small child still, which, if I remember, even in my 30s was quite taxing. We have picked the venue and are working on finding a dress, which thankfully over the years I have made friends with many of the owners of local dress shops and many skilled tailors so we have a small advantage in finding and getting a wedding dress fitted correctly over some of my regular customers and certainly in cleaning and pressing it for the big day.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Dry cleaning is an interesting business. You just never know what the day is going to bring. One questions I get asked often is why an article of clothing is dry clean only. There are multiple reasons that an article of clothing cannot be immersed in water. In dry cleaning you use a solvent to replace water, which was a process invented by Thomas Jennings. Many people around the world owe a great debt to Jennings whom I bet most people have never heard of.

Jennings was an African American New Yorker who lived from 1791-1856. Jennings worked as a tailor in his younger years eventually becoming the owner of one of the most sought after clothing stores in New York.

His customers came to him when they could not get stains out of their clothes to get recommendations on how to clean them. Due to the natural fibers used at the time, there was not a very good method to clean the clothes. This inspired Jennings to come up with a more efficient way to clean clothes. He tested different solvents to replace water and finally landed on one he believed worked the best. He called the process Dry Scouring. He applied for a patent in 1820, which he was awarded, making him the first African American to own a patent in the United States.

After receiving his patent, Jennings made enough money to buy the rest of his family out of slavery. He then used most of the rest of his fortune in abolitionist activities. One of the other things he was well known for was a landmark legal battle to abolish segregation in New York's public transportation systems. His daughter was thrown out of a street car on her way to church, prompting them to sue the Third Avenue Street Car Company for discrimination. They won the case and about 10 years later all street cars in the city were desegregated. They continued championing for the cause to desegregate all of New York's public areas up until his death in 1856.

The reason so many articles of clothing were ruined trying to clean them is materials at this time were natural fibers, which means even when hand-washed, they were prone to shrinking which is still true today. Also, many of the dyes used to color clothes are water soluble. This means when they are immersed in water the dyes will bleed and come out of the clothes.

I'm sure almost everybody has accidentally put a red shirt in with whites and ended up with a pink mess. Dry cleaning not using any water will help keep the colors from fading and will keep most natural fibers from shrinking. It will also soften the garments, especially things like silk. Even if you have washed it many times before, dry cleaning will bring back the softness. The dry cleaning process will also help clothes maintain there shape and keep them wrinkle free.

There are a few downsides to the process. Some plastics will melt in the dry cleaner because they are made from a similar solvent and sometimes glues will do the same thing, causing non dry cleanable clothes to come apart. The dry cleaner is also not very good at removing protein stains such as food. Proteins are water soluble stains and need water reintroduced to remove them. This is part of the reason a good dry cleaner will have a spotting station to help remove those pesky stains that don't come out.

When in doubt bring you favorite clothes to your local dry cleaner so they can take care of the whole process for you without you having to worry about it.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

I'm sure whoever is primarily responsible for the laundry in a household understands that it never ends. We were closed for the Fourth of July this month, which has led to a busy week for us this week. We were unable to process clothes for two days, but all of our customers still wore the same amount of clothes.

I think dry cleaners should be renamed to just we appropriately and professionally clean any type of garment you need cleaned. I don't think people realize your local dry cleaner doesn't just throw everything into the dry cleaner and have it come out clean. We sort the clothes and clean them in the manner that we believe is best. Sometimes it has to be hand washed, reshaped and lay flat to dry or cleaned in some other unusual manner.

The main thing is they are cleaned and pressed to the best of the dry cleaner's ability so the customer can enjoy wearing the clothes and know they look put together and professional. Just like the old adage says dress for the job you want and not the one you have although I never had an employer excited when I came dressed as Batman, so there are some exceptions to that rule.

Whether you have aspirations of being a Youtube star or want to be the manager at the place you work looking well put together is essential to achieving those dreams. I didn't realize it until I started dry cleaning more items but people notice when your clothes are freshly pressed and wrinkle free. It not only makes them notice but it puts a spring in my step as well because it does look and feel so much better than just hang drying your clothes at home. There is a long and arduous process to getting the clothes just right. The fit and finish from the local dry cleaner just can't be beat.

I haven't gotten the opportunity to go to a Sod Poodles game yet, unfortunately however my daughter went to the Fourth of July game and had an absolute blast. She apparently bought tickets for about $70 apiece, which were standing room only tickets. I didn't know that was an option especially at that price point so I assume there was a premium for the day's game because of the holiday. They had fireworks and refreshments of all kinds which my daughter said were delicious. The players played hard and made the game fun and interesting. I'm not a huge baseball fan and I didn't really like the name of the team at first; however, it has begun to grow on me.

So go Sod Poodles and hopefully I will get to go see a game soon as well.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Independence Day celebrations are nearly over and the grind to go back to work will start shortly. This is a bittersweet occurrence nearly every year. I think the Fourth of July is really what marks the beginning of summer in America. It all starts days or even weeks leading up to the festivities.

Families planning lunches and barbecue, small and large fireworks displays abound and, in Amarillo, happen apparently at any time. This year we were invited to my younger sister's house in Bushland. She has this perfect little fantasy ranch where we had plenty of room to set up picnic tables in the horse stable and fit the 25 or so family and friends who came together in celebration of all things American.

The brisket and sausage was about as delicious a meal as ever presented on this day of celebration. We had wonderful conversations and got caught up on what everybody had been doing since the last time we had all gotten together, which was probable around Christmas. The children played together, running around in and out of shoes with big, gleeful smiles on their faces not quite understanding what this holiday is all about but with intense desire to begin popping fireworks even if it was just sparklers and smoke bombs that they got to light.

My youngest daughter became fast friends with a little girl she had just met. Two ornery children who seemed to have as much fun playing at being pigs rolling in the mud as dressing Barbie in her newest fashion. I didn't see a single phone or iPad being used for any other purpose than to take pictures and remember how sweet it is to appreciate being so blessed to be an American on Independence Day.

The founding fathers should have been hanged for crimes against the throne, and I am sure they would have been if we had not won our independence. It is hard to imagine a time when America wasn't one of the most powerful countries in the world, however it has only been that for a short time. I wonder what has made us so successful where so many other countries have failed. I think after having visited so many other places it is our desire to follow the rules mostly.

When traveling in other countries, I was always amazed at the rule breaking that went on. Little things like traffic lights. People trying to run them jamming up traffic in all directions as they try to fight for who gets through first. In America, it is mostly understood that you wait your turn and by doing so everybody eventually gets to go their way. When we break the rules, it is usually with much thought and consideration as a cultural whole.

We decide what is the best course of action for us and head that direction. We knew we would be better off as a strong independent country than as a colony ran by another country so far away and who did not understand our morals or culture. I enjoy Independence Day every year and look forward to seeing friends and family get together and celebrate all things American, and this year did not disappoint.

I hope the fireworks and camaraderie made an impression on my children and they understand just how blessed they are to have been born in America and how easy it is to make life choices for yourself here. There are no boundaries or hurdles in place to prevent people from striving to make the best life they possibly can for themselves and their children in this great country. Oh, well, back to the grind until Thanksgiving.

Thanks for the memories and the beginning of what I hope is a fantastic summer.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

I was talking with one of my customers about how busy life is nowadays. She has a full-time job and so does her husband. They are juggling life, kids and work. She used to iron her husband's work shirts herself but now that little bit of time is too precious to waste so she brings them to us. I absolutely know how she feels. It seems like June just started, however, we are at the end now about to go into July. Before you know it, school will be starting again. I know some of the laundry we do, especially wash and fold by the pound, is sent to us to save people time and open their schedules for what is really important -- spending time with the family or relaxing with a good movie or book. It doesn't take much to look your best, and, certainly, local dry cleaners love to help.

There is a reason that no matter how you try it is next to impossible to achieve the same results on a men's button-up shirt that a dry cleaner can. We go through many steps to put the best finish possible on a button-up shirt that are hard to impossible to recreate without the right equipment. The first thing that happens in the process is the front counter person decides if the shirt needs to be dry cleaned or laundered.

Most men's shirts are laundered, however, there are several dry clean only options as well such as Pendleton wool shirts or lots of Robert Graham shirts are defiantly dry clean only. There can be many reasons for this such as the colorfastness used when making the shirt or the amount of natural fibers such as wool which can lose shape and feel if laundered. Then the order is sent to be tagged. The tagger affixes a specific number to the shirt and double checks it for stains that need to be pretreated then sorts it by color and starch preference.

What dry cleaners mean by starch is not what most people think about when they think of starch. I know for most of my life I associated starch with what comes in the can at the store in the dry cleaning world this is sizing and used mostly for delicate items such as blouses. The starch used in dry cleaning is actually a form of corn starch that is added into the wash cycle where it binds with the fibers like a glue and adds additional protection against things like stains or if you are a welder it can help keep your shirts from burning from the small sparks.

The shirt is then sent to the wash. Once done, it is removed from the washer still wet and sent to the shirt presser to be put on the shirt buck. This machine has a body form that you put the shirt around, then vacuums the shirt down tight and two large hot plates one for the front and one for the back press and dry the shirt while adding steam. This presses the main body of the shirt, which is then sent to inspection. The inspector looks at the shirt for stains and wrinkles if there are none the shirt is then assembled on the customer's order. If on the other hand there are stains or additional wrinkles, it is sent to either the spotting board for stain removal or to be hand pressed to get the last wrinkles out. It is a long hot process to achieve the perfect shirt but when they do turn out perfect it is very rewarding as well.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

In the dry cleaning business, you just never know what the day will bring. This week my delivery driver has been sick so I have been doing the deliveries. This sounds like a straightforward and easy task until you get into the thick of it and realize how much prior planning it takes to achieve success. Starting the day this week, I opened the delivery software and printed out the schedule. Then I began organizing the orders of clothes and putting them on the clothes racks in the back of the delivery van.

I had to do this in the opposite order of delivery so my last delivery of the day goes into the van first and my first goes in last. We run two routes in Amarillo one east of Western and one west of Western. I have to admit even though I have lived in Amarillo for a good portion of my life I do not know all of the neighborhoods here. We have a bunch of small gated communities that if you don't know someone who lives there you probably don't know it exists.

If you see the Doche van circling around your neighborhood feel free to flag me down. I've probably gotten lost looking for your neighbor's house that my GPS says is right there but of course it isn't and I probably can't find it. So far this week I've missed deadlines, skipped deliveries and missed delivering sheets or other small items that don't go on a hanger. I have an enormous appreciation for all of my employees, which only grows when I have to do their jobs for a few days.

One of the communities we deliver to is a beautiful neighborhood that has what I assume is a small manmade pool with a fountain. It is almost like going to a European village. The streets are cobblestone and meander in every which direction with very little organization as far as I can tell. Every time I go into it I feel as if I have been transported out of Texas and into another country. The houses line the streets without yards so they but up against the cobblestone streets.

This makes the streets seem very narrow it is an optical illusion I think just because the houses are right there and when you make a turn or try to turn around you feel like you might run right into a house. The people who live there are always outside walking their dogs or jogging around the central park area I think it seems like a really neat area of Amarillo to live in.

Hopefully, Monday will come and my delivery driver will return, enabling me to get back to business as usual. I enjoy being able to work in the production plant, ensuring every item of clothing is processed to the best of our ability. Organization is the backbone of dry cleaning, and every item of clothing is inspected several times. When you drop off, for example, a men's button-up shirt, it is first inspected by the front desk, then tagged and inspected again. The shirt is sorted and put into the correct starch: no starch, light, medium or heavy. Finally it is processed, pressed, and then sent to final inspection and assembly with the rest of your order. We usually have one of the owners do the final inspection to ensure it meets our standards.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

I think it's official: the 90′s are back. Time to break out the sundresses with super clunky shoes or even Doc Martins and for the guys flannel shirts and boots. It's interesting how fashion comes around and then goes again. I would say a lot of the fashion from the early 2000′s was definitely inspired by the 1980s, thankfully, in my mind anyway, that seems to be over.

I hope that buffalo shoes begin to be in style and the size makes the skinny jean no longer cool. I first noticed this trend of 90′s style about a six months ago or so we started getting a bunch of baby doll dresses to be cleaned and pressed. Which if I remember in my dusty old mind really started with the girls on "My So Called Life." We've also seen a resurgence of combat trousers in both tan and camo colors. I'm not sure if it will be making a return, but I hope the multicolored butterfly hair clips come back. I'm not sure if it is just my nostalgia talking or that fad really looks good.

Mathew McConaughey's new movie "The Beach Bum," I think, fashionably has a very 90s vibe. Heidi Bivens who does the costumes for the movie, whether she planned it or not, includes such 90′s staples as Jinco jeans worn by Zach Efron. Everything in the movie McConaughey wears could have come from any beach bum living in the 90s, even the bedazzled Ugg boots and flame suit he wears in a few scenes.

Unfortunately, he does not rock the dad bod, which I keep trying to convince the girls in my life is super popular and should be respected. He wears a fanny pack, which I'm not sure should make a comeback but would go with a dad bod I think. Snoop Dogg makes an appearance in the movie wearing what he would normally wear and I'm not sure he ever made it out of the 90s aside from being a little more peculiar than he would normally be. All together I think this movie could help bring back the 90′s style even more than it already has started to.

I had a professor in college that I cannot remember what he taught exactly, maybe economics. However, he said something that has resonated with me for the last several years. His opinion is there are three things every business has to choose from to be successful unfortunately you only get to pick two of those three things. A business can be fast. It can be cheap or it can be good. You cannot be all three things and if you try you will not be successful. Now every time I go into a business I look to see what they are trying to be. We try to be reasonably priced and good but not fast. I have applied this to many businesses and looking at their models you can see how this plays out in all of them.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

My last duty station in the Army was a little place in Virginia called Fort Monroe. It is basically a small island established to guard the entrance between the Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads specifically the Elizabeth, Nansemond and James rivers. The fort itself is interesting it has an interior area surrounded by a moat. Inside that area is housing and if I remember the museum. The fort has since been decommissioned, I believe in 2011, and turned into a national memorial or portions of it was by President Obama. This area is full of historical and unusual places and things.

We lived in Newport News, which was a short drive to the post and close to Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens and Virginia Beach. This enabled us to spend lots of time in all three areas. There are a bunch of small beaches that are mostly only known by locals which are much better than Virginia Beach proper. We owned a small boat and would go out on the Chesapeake Bay and go fishing. One of my daughter's first time to catch a fish, we had bought her a small Barbie fishing pole, and I guess she was not sure if she actually wanted to catch a fish.

She had the hook in the water and a fish came up and nibbled on her line. She got this shocked look on her face and I will never forget how fast she let go of her fishing pole and it seemed to leap from her hand and into the bay never to be seen again. Boating in the Chesapeake is great, however there are some enormous ships that go through those channels and it is a little nerve-racking when they come by and you realize just how small your personal boat is.

I would highly recommend going to Busch Gardens if you are ever in the Virginia Beach area. It is a good sized amusement park, a lot like Six Flags except much prettier. It was started by the Anhuser Busch company in 1975 across from their brewery in the Williamsburg area. It has several roller coasters and other rides. One of my favorite things is they would take you over to the brewery and let you see how the beer was made as well as let you sample some of the different beers. My daughter loved the roller coasters once she was old enough to enjoy them and made me ride a few of them so many times it nearly made me sick.

Colonial Williamsburg is a living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia. I know it seems like all of these places may be far apart, however, these towns are like driving from Amarillo to Canyon or maybe a little closer. They have costumed employees who mimic life as it was in colonial times, including many neat portrayals of life during that time. We always enjoyed getting to experience the clothing and old buildings that Williamsburg had to offer. It is free of charge to walk around and if you want to go into the different buildings it is a minimal fee.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Sitting at my desk in my office at work all I want is to go outside and enjoy this beautiful spring day. I can't remember in recent years Amarillo actually having a spring. It seems like we have gone straight from winter to105 degree days with almost no moisture the last several years. My garden and backyard are blooming. I've got the largest crop of roses my bushes have produced in several years and the greenest grass. This will be a great weekend to get out and do all of the honey-do's my wife has laid out for me, especially after last weekend's high school graduations making it difficult to do any real work.

Last weekend was bittersweet for me. My daughter graduated and is moving on to the big college adventure. It was nearly 20 years ago my wife and I were graduating from AHS and now we get to see our daughter do the same. I can't say I am going to miss the last minute I have a project due tomorrow at bed time. I will however miss all of the little sweet things like running to The Ruffled Cup and catching them right before close to grab a special treat after a hard day's work. I know that look on her face when you get to do something little and special like that is near priceless. Now that she is going to be a grownup I bet we don't get to do things like that anymore.

When I was contracting in Afghanistan I would work about seven or eight months on and then get three weeks off. One of those times when my daughter was I think still in middle school we went to Padre Island for a week. I know that is not as exciting as going to Jamaica or Hawaii, however Padre is one of Texas' perfect little getaways.

It's just a small sand bar in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. The water is definitely not perfectly blue and clear but it has its own brown charm just like the island its self. I think the culture on Padre is perfect for a beach town. Everything is a little run down and could use a coat of paint. If you like fishing or riding jet skis, they have plenty of charter boats and ski rentals. However, they will all be from 1985 and barely held together with duct tape and bailing wire.

The jet skis may propel you to 20 miles an hour but beyond that they will bog down and show their age. If you're lucky, they won't sink. There is a wonderful little shop there I have gone to since I was a little kid called Kay's Jewelry. I remember when I was little getting the obligatory shark tooth necklace and talking with the owner as he smoked cigarettes in his little shop and his wife assisted us in picking out beads and teeth.

We took our girls there and like the town itself the shop has gotten a little more run down. The ashtray on the counter is no longer being used since the owner's husband passed. However the wife is still running the business and greeting customers with her infectious smile. My youngest daughter and my oldest both picked out their shark tooth necklaces sitting in the same chair I did when I was their age. This is a sweet memory of mine and one I will cherish even though now my daughter is a grown adult and no longer has the time to sit on my lap and let the ocean wash over our toes.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Happy Memorial Day or thank you for your service. These are terms nearly all veterans will hear on Memorial Day. People who have never been in the service have a hard time distinguishing the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. These are distinctly different holidays.

Veterans Day is a day to honor all veterans who served and is a great time to thank them for their service. Memorial Day on the other hand is a day of observance for those who laid their life's down to ensure the freedoms of the people of the United States.

When America first began, we had politicians with the most fortitude and mental toughness to ever grace the planet. People often forget but when they signed the Declaration of Independence, they were committing treason to their country and the penalty for that was death. They still understood that the idea of America was a great one and one worth dying for.

This is an idea that has permeated the American psyche for generations and why we have the best fighting force on the planet. I think today's politicians for the most part will never understand the commitment to service displayed by the honorable people who preceded them. Those who were willing to sacrifice their lives for an idea that the responsibility of leaders is to ensure the best for those they lead.

In recent years the wars fought by American soldiers have all been on the other side of the pond. My experience was during operation Iraqi Freedom, which started March of 2003. My squad was specifically assigned to a small Iraqi police station in a suburb of Baghdad called Abu Ghraib.

At first we ran 24-hour shifts there and then they moved my squad to night shift only in 12-hour shifts. Our company took over what I think may have been a museum of some kind near the Saddam hands. This was our main area and from there we would all run different Iraqi Police stations.

We would drive out to our Iraqi Police station every day to assume our shift. The road out there was pretty treacherous at that time. There was one area in particular that stands out. We had a roundabout we had to go through that was notorious for improvised explosive devices. We called it the Indianapolis 500 and when you arrived you just floored the HMMWV, shut your eyes and hoped you made it through unscathed.

My gunner through all of this was a young female who was assigned to me right before we left for Iraq. PFC Betsold did an excellent job without complaint. She arrived to the unit on the same day as PFC Bosveld. I actually had the two of them confused for the first few days they were with us. Our Iraqi police station was next to an open-air market where the locals traded everything from food to mortars.

Because of our location, we were attacked by locals something like 145 nights in a row. Somebody was keeping count and that was the number I heard. Private First Class Betsold was at the Abu Ghraib Iraqi police station when it came under mortar fire for what was probably the 100th plus time. She was fatally injured that day. Finally, after that the brass in charge brought in tanks and leveled the open-air market to help stop the free flowing movement of weapons in that community.

That is what Memorial Day is for -- to remember and honor those who died for our country. One day of solemn silence lest we ever forget what sacrifices were made for an idea that is America.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

It is nearly summertime, and that makes for a large change in the dry cleaning business for what is sent in to be cleaned and pressed. We are moving from sweaters and winter suits to summer sport coats, polo shirts and shorts. It is as important in the summer time to put your best foot forward even though the clothing is less formal. If it is properly cleaned and pressed it can still look great and well presented.

This is an exciting weekend. The next installment of the John Wick movies with Keanu Reeves is coming out. The first two are some of the best action movie offerings to come out in several years. For those of you who don't know, John Wick is an assassin who lives in a world where there is a network of assassins who interact and live with the real world but one of their own making as well with their own rules and codes. The action scenes are phenomenal with beautifully choreographed fights and splendid background sets, which if you pay attention helps to tell the story.

I believe the character of John Wick may unhorse James Bond as the best dressed hit man in the movies. His suits are designed and tailored by Luca Mosca with an impeccable eye for detail. Throughout the series it is interesting to watch for all of the small changes that happen to the suits. One of the things I think is hard to notice is that even though most people think he wears black throughout the movie it is actually a dark grey in nearly every scene. I think in the second movie the shirt collars are increased by a few millimeters, which alters the look completely. Finding the best fit and style of clothing to wear is a trial and error process which is why it is so tough to buy clothes online that fit correctly.

According to Luca, he made about 50 suits for the most recent movie to allow room to do some of the stunts or to add padding. He had to add material to the arm hole of some of the jackets or to the inseam to allow the actor to perform certain stunts. Creating the look is about all of the small details such as the red cufflinks John wears. They are just one small pop of color in an otherwise dark attire.

Watching these movies with all of the characters dressed to the nines is fascinating for me. I like to think that at one time people always put this much attention and trouble into what they would wear for specific occasions or every day. I was talking a customer the other day about how when he was younger people would dress up for the most mundane task. He especially mentioned flying which used to be an event people would wear suits and dresses for. Last time I flew I think most on the plane people were wearing athleisure wear at best and pajamas at worst. With any luck this weekend I will be able to put on my best attire take my wife to a nice restaurant and escape into the world of John Wick one more time.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Sometimes you get to have an adventure. It can come as a surprise or be a planned vacation. In my case this time I was assigned to provide security for soldiers on R&R during their time deployed to Kosavo. We were sent to Sophia Bulgaria, which is the capital and much like a major U.S. city.

They sent my entire squad, which consisted of nine people, and set us up in a local four-star hotel. We had a great per diem which more than covered food and laundry. They would rotate the soldiers on R&R through for three days so we would work six days on two rotations and then have one day off. It was interesting to me that many films are shot in and around Sophia. While we were there, we met Jean Claude Van Damme, who was shooting a film, and Dean Cain, who was about to start filming something.

You would be surprised I think at how often Sophia is supposed to be some other European city. There are many areas with beautiful cobblestone streets and luxurious old buildings. One day we took a small field trip out of the city. I think it was about an hour bus ride or so and saw one of the oldest monasteries in Europe. Right around the corner from our hotel was the Church of St. George. It was built during the reign of Constantine the Great in the fourth century. It is quite a sight to see with its large dome with beautiful frescoes underneath.

The culture in Bulgaria is unusual. The Russian mob, at least in the early 2000s, controlled quite a bit of the city. We had many interactions with them when soldiers would drink in their establishments and not realize they had ran up a thousand dollar bill.We patrolled with the Bulgarian police and one night while on patrol we went to a doughnut shop that appeared to be a legitimate franchise.

Sometimes in foreign cities they will open coffee shops or retail places and use a familiar brand as the name, but they don't have anything to do with the real companies. We went inside and the patrolman pulled out his weapon, set it on the counter and began speaking with the customer service representative in Bulgarian.

It didn't seem to be a heated exchange, however, she proceeded to turn around, fill up a box of donuts and the patrolman reholstered his weapon and turned around and walked out with the donuts without paying. I was in shock, to say the least, however you never can tell when people in other countries are messing with you and at least in my mind he was playing a prank on me. Another night we were off duty and decided to go to a fancy restaurant. I love to try new food and can tell you when in a foreign country ask what the best restaurant is and try whatever the waiter recommends as the best thing on the menu.

This particular night we got into a cab. It was December and snowing so the streets were icy. The cab driver didn't seem to care and went speeding through the night with little trepidation as to what might happen if we slid into something. The three of us going out that night were white knuckled holding our seat belts in our hands and at least I was praying we did not have an accident. Whipping around a corner, we did slide into another car causing some minor damage. However both cars were still operable.

The driver we hit started his car and took off through the night on the small cobblestone roads, which twisted and turned through the city with no discernible plan. I think they just followed whatever old horse trail was in the city at the time they were built without thought as to what direction people actually wanted to go. Our cab driver jumped back into the cab, speeding off in hot pursuit of the poor driver we had hit.

Yelling into the radio, I assume, for help from his fellow cab drivers because as we raced through the city we were joined by four other taxis. They boxed the driver of the other car in at a dead end and our cab driver jumped back out of the cab proceeded to pull the other driver out of his car and they began beating the other driver up. Our cab driver then hopped back in apologized and sped us off to our pre-planned destination.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

One thing about being a dry cleaner is that we get to see all kinds of clothes. We also get to see how they age over time and what companies have the best construction. Simple things like how they source their fabrics and what sort of stitching they use can make all of the differences in the world.

Some companies go all out and get the best materials available and some outsource for the cheapest materials they can get. Small boutique items are typically the most delicate and difficult to clean. There are many reasons why I think this is the case. The biggest reason is these clothes are specially made in small batches with little concern for how long they will last. They are made to be perfect for the one season before the next year's line comes out.

Some of the most expensive brands fall into this category and should be taken to a professional cleaner every time they are soiled. Something I never took into account prior to owning a dry cleaning company is the small beads and plastics found on clothes. These, if not made correctly, can melt in the dry cleaning process or the glue used to fasten them to the clothing can come off making the beads or gems come off in the dry cleaner.

This is worth pointing out to your cleaner when you drop off something like that. A good cleaner should be on the lookout for that type of thing, but sometimes it can be overlooked. Amarillo is really lucky that we have several small clothing stores here that are locally owned and will really take care of their customers.

Being a small business owner is an interesting and challenging proposition. You have to fill many shoes and wear all of the hats to make everything work. In a large business everything is more compartmentalized. You have the CEO who makes the command decisions and the CFO who controls the budget.

There are several such titles in a large business so that not one person ever gets too much on their plate. In a small family owned business there is typically one or two people who share all of those responsibilities.

It becomes a juggling act to try and make everything consistent and perfect. I will say having worked for small and large companies in the small companies where the owner is present there is typically more care and pride in the work, which I always thought was one of the best reasons to try and stay local with my shopping. Being able to walk into an establishment and talk to the owner about things is a huge plus in my book.

Try going into one of the major chain stores and see if you can talk to an owner I don't think it would be possible unless you spent some astronomical amount of money with the business. Case in point I had a customer call the other day about getting a stain out of an item of clothing. I spent several minutes talking to her about what we would try to do to get the stain out. Dry cleaning is as much art as science. You have to watch the PH levels of the water and the clothes having too much acidity can lead to yellow spots etc. Working on the stain board if your technique isn't good, you can blow a hole into the garment, especially a delicate silk blouse. I try to be available to interact with the customers as much as possible.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

I've lived all over the world, not on vacation but lived in other places for months and years at a time. Amarillo is the greatest little city I have ever been to. People here will help other people in need. I know if somebody is visiting here and their car breaks down many of the local dealerships will go above and beyond to get them back on the road. Locally, we have many great institutions to help people with little legs up such as the High Plains Food Bank, which, through all of the community support, helps locals be able to eat, or our favorite, Colorful Closets, which helps provide children in need with clothing to go to school and have the confidence they need to become successful in their lives.

We have many wonderful donors who support the arts here such as the Amarillo Little Theatre and there is an awesome initiative through the city to have local artists draw murals on public buildings to beautify Amarillo and support the artists in their endeavors. It never ceases to amaze me how, if you look around Amarillo, how many people are there donating their time and money to help this community be great.

Recently a customer brought in a family heirloom to have a spot removed that had gotten on it during storage. It is a beautiful Easter dress that every member of the family gets their picture taken in, I would say, when they were about three or four. I love the challenge of things like this and the trust we have developed in the community for people to come to us specifically for items that are sentimental or valuable and they know they can't just trust anyone with it.

I recently had one of my most challenging pieces ever brought in. One of our customers is a big motorcycle fan and he was setting up his garage to reflect that. He brought in an old Triumph banner from a dealership that had been hung up for decades in a shop. I knew the colorfastness in the dyes was not going to be very good. It made me feel like an archeologist cleaning this. I used delicate brushes and PH neutral water and soaps to keep the orange from bleeding onto the white. It was an adventure to get all of the dingy yellowing and old grease off. I worked on one little section and stain at a time. It turned out great and the customer seemed extremely happy or at least happy enough to bring in another one.

I've been trying to find live music in Amarillo, and it seems there is a shortage of it here. When my wife and I lived in Virginia, they offered monthly live music in the park which was a lot of fun. One of my hobbies aside from cleaning clothes is to try and pluck my way through a song on the guitar. I've been at it off and on for the last few years and can honestly say a teenager who started playing last week can probable pull off more licks than I can. However, it is still fun to try.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Today is Easter, which I believe is a great time to be thankful for everything in our life. Whether tackling a new project you are not sure of the outcome of or having just successfully completed a project. I have realized many times that failures often teach us more than successes.

For those who follow my articles, you know I have two daughters and a wife. This means I am highly outnumbered when it comes to any decisions that need to be made. The estrogen is nearly overwhelming in our house. This means on Easter there will be three girls trying to get ready with limited bathroom and mirror space. We as the parents in the house have messed up raising our girls; I think it is a problem with my generation. We haven't instilled the appropriate amount of fear in our daughters.

I remember waking up Sunday mornings as a kid to the sound of my mother's high heels on the hardwood floor in the hallway running to the kids' bedrooms. Nothing in my life compares to that sound. If you think of any scene in a horror movie where the main characters arm hair rises in anticipation of what is next that is what happens to me when I hear the clack-clack of high heels on hardwood. Unfortunately for us, that is not the case with our daughters so I am sure Sunday morning will be a challenge to make it to church on time and in our Easter best.

Dream big. That is such a small statement and yet it means so much. Dreams are where every adventure begins. I had dreamed of being career military and following in one of my granddad's foot steps. However, after five years in the military I realized I had a 5-year old daughter and had been there for her about six months of her entire life off and on I had even missed her birth having been sent to Kosavo and not being able to return home on time.

I knew when it was time to reenlist that her life meant more to me than the small snippets I had been able to enjoy up to that point. So my wife and I moved on and at that point I had no direction and my dreams had to change. After several years of college with no real direction, we figured out what our next dream was or at least mine. I wanted to own a respected small business in Amarillo and be able to give back to the community by providing jobs and being able to help people in whatever way I could like the people who had helped me in my life.

This has been more than the adventure I had hoped for and we have for the last several years been the owners of several dry cleaners here in Amarillo. Every day is an adventure and the dream keeps changing, moving bars set by leaps and bounds. I am so grateful for the people in Amarillo who are now a part of our small family and see us every day. I hope everybody gets to spend Easter with their families and loved ones. I know I am going to try to this year and make it the best Easter I can. Even if that means having PTSD over the sound of high heels on the hard floors of the church.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

This is probably an odd statement from a guy who grew up in middle-class Amarillo, but the first time I was ever on the receiving end of enemy fire was in a little country called Kosovo. I went into basic training in 1999 and then went to Airborne training in Georgia. Afterward, I received new orders taking me from either being stationed with the 101st or the 82nd to being with the 527th in Giessen, Germany.

I didn't know it at the time, but the reason was they were gearing up for missions in Kosovo. The Army had just spent millions with Textron to produce a new armored vehicle called the ASV, and the 527th was the first unit to be issued them. The Army wanted to prove they were efficient and capable vehicles, so they immediately sent the 527th to the closest proving grounds they could to help write practical training and see how they handled in rough terrain.

While in Kosovo we put the vehicles to the test. Kosovo has a lot of small mountains and undeveloped areas in between cities and small villages. With that in mind the Army unleashed us in these small wheeled tanks and we took them to task. Something that people don't think about the military is how young everybody is.

The sergeants are in their 20s and the higher enlisted are typically in their 30s. So when the Army said we needed to test these out, we did. Driving to every little village in our patrol sector we were in mudder heaven. We crawled up every muddy mountain trail and through streams and lakes many times getting the Humvees stuck and having to use the wench to pull them up with the ASV. One time while I was driving, we did get one stuck so bad we had to call in the tank recovery vehicle to get us pulled out. Suffice it to say, my superiors were not very happy with us over that one.

Sometime during the deployment, they got word of a rebel training camp up in one of the mountains. The plan was to take Blackhawks up into the mountain and ruck the last little way to assault the camp. Unfortunately, it was snowing too hard that day for the choppers to fly in, so they decided to ruck the entire way up through these small mountain trails. They had planned on using a truck to meet us at the top with our extra gear in our rucksacks, to help us make better time up into the mountain passes.

The trucks got snowed out, so all we had was what we were wearing when we started. Somewhere about a mile or two away from the training camp, we stopped for the night after an entire day rucking up these little mountain goat trails, carrying easily a hundred pounds of equipment apiece. Our clothing was wet from sweat and snow, and since the trucks with the extra gear never made it, we had very little to change into.

I have never been so cold in my life. My bones ached. I was about 19 and remember trying to sleep and thinking, "Well, this is the day I never wake up because I am going to freeze to death in this little blown-up ruins of a building on this little mountain pass in the middle of nowhere."

Thankfully, we all made it to the next morning. We ate, checked our gear and marched the last few miles to the training camp. The Special Forces soldiers who were with us did the initial assault, and we stayed on the perimeter to catch any runners and to step in if they started to become overrun. Special Forces completed the mission with only a few incidents, one of them being a small group who tried to escape and headed our way. As we moved to try and flank them, they engaged us, with one of the bullets hitting the snow inches from where my foot had just been.

I can't remember right now, but I think one or two of the SF soldiers did get injured on this mission. This paper had an article on the mission the next day or so, I know, because my mother kept every article on any mission I was involved in in a scrapbook usually from the Globe-News.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Today is a beautiful spring day here. It makes me excited to start working in the yard planting flowers, shrubs and all the other general outside maintenance that has been long ignored over the winter months.

I'm sure my wife has a list as long as her arm of the much needed honey do's on top of what I think needs to be done because that's how it works, at least in our marriage. It also means it is time to clean all of the winter clothes and get them ready for storage, which we did start the other day.

I ran into one of my favorite jackets, which is a 70′s Sears and Roebuck slightly orangey brown coat with a fleece collar. I acquired this particular item of clothing from my father-in-law a few years ago and it has become a staple of my winter wardrobe. It amazes me the amount of craftsmanship clothes had even at a Sears price point, which I believe even then their claim to fame was price and availability.

It has been a regular item of worn clothing for nearly 50 years and still has a lot of life left in it. The collars are not frayed and the fabric is not coming apart in any particular areas. Most clothes made today even at higher price points are made to be discarded within a few years of use. The clothing manufacturers don't double-stitch the seams and the colorfastness has declined so much so that how you clean the clothes makes a tremendous difference in how they look even after a few cleanings.

I wonder if there will be any of today's clothes remaining when the current styles come back around in 20 years or if people will be forced to constantly upgrade their wardrobe with newly purchased items. I will admit to being a little bit of a snob in this area. I prefer older things, partially because I figure if it made it 20 years then it must be well made and partially because some antiques, I believe will always be classy.

Besides my old jacket, I also love old German cars. The leather has a uniquely old German car smell that you cannot replicate. The knobs and buttons are analog and you can feel it do something, unlike newer cars where everything is controlled by the computer telling it to do something. It doesn't hurt that you can buy these for pennies on the dollar, and if you pick it out right, you can drive it for five or six years and sell it for what you bought it.

I also have an affinity for old watches. Most of what people wear today for a watch is technology-driven fit bits or Apple watches that cannot stand the test of time. They are reliant on whatever the most recent advances in technology are.

I think everybody should invest in a beautiful Swiss time piece. They will always look classy and serve the purpose of telling time through the intricate series of gears inside them. Keeping old things looking new is one of the things that attracted me to dry cleaning. Most people don't think about it when they launder at home, but small details like the PH balance of the water and soap can make a tremendous difference in the quality of the cleaning and the longevity of your clothes.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

One of my favorite destinations in the world is Dubai. It is a part of the United Arab Emirates, which is an Arabian Peninsula nation settled mainly along the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. One of the first things you will notice once you arrive at the airport is the country's commitment to luxury.

I know it's kind of a funny example, but even at the airport the toilets are heated and use hot water in the bowl, which you would never think of but it's a memorable experience. As soon as I got through customs and left the airport I was amazed at the number of luxury vehicles I saw. There were Lamborghinis and Ferraris lined up driving everywhere. I walked to the taxi line and they were all very nice Mercedes, which you will see in Germany but there they use the less expensive, smaller Mercedes and in Dubai it is the big fancier models.

There is so much to do in Dubai, but I think the first thing everyone should see is the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world. It stands more than 2,700 feet and 163 floors high. At the base there is a fountain that shoots water to music, which is a simplification of how cool it is. I highly recommend watching a video of the fountain. There is also all of the shopping you could ever want to do. Around the Burj Khalifa is Armani, Gucci, Channel and nearly any other high-end brand you can think of.

They also have an indoor ski mountain and manmade islands in the gulf with all kinds of neat aquatic life and other attractions. I would recommend eating at the Bread Street Kitchen, which is a Gordan Ramsey restaurant near the Atlantis where the islands are located. It is better than his restaurant in Heathrow airport in London. If you ever get the chance to visit Dubai just say yes, it is one of the best destinations in the world.

Now that spring is here and summer is just around the corner, it is time to get the summer sport coat out or to purchase a new one. There are many things to take into account when picking out the best summer sport coat. The first should be what type of material. I prefer linen although it never presses out as well as wool or cotton. It will always have a slightly wrinkled finish no matter what method you use to press it.

Another option is cotton. Cotton will breathe great and press out better than linen, making it a little more formal and yet still a much cooler option than wool or a wool cotton blend. The next thing to take into consideration is the lining. They make summer sport coats without a lining, which is the coolest option. However, I prefer suits made with a partial lining. It goes in the suit just around the shoulders and upper torso.It is typically referred to as a butterfly lining because it is shaped like a butterfly.

The next thing to think about in a suit is the button choices. On a summer sport coat the two-button is the most versatile. For less formal occasions I recommend a single button. It's a little different and looks great. Until you dress up a little, you will never understand how people treat you differently than if you just wear a wrinkled t-shirt and jeans.

With a well pressed outfit and a sport coat, random people will stop and talk to you about anything and smile when they see you. You will immediately notice a difference. Try it for a week and if I'm wrong, email me at I might change my stance, but I don't think that will be the case.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Today is the first day of spring, which means wedding season and prom season have officially arrived. Over the years, we have helped new brides save their precious wedding dresses from all kinds of wedding day abuse. The most recent that comes to mind occurred when the new bride came in with a balled up mess of a wedding dress with a large stain down the front.

She pulled it out of the bag she had it in and with a small embarrassed smile she advised us of what happened. Apparently, her wedding was a lot more fun than mine was. We were only 19 and 20, respectfully, so there was not a lot of drinking and partying when we got married. Apparently for this new bride, which at this point is a term I use loosely because it has been over a year since their wedding, was not the case because of the large brown stain down the front of the dress.

After the wedding she had balled the wedding dress up put it in the trunk of her car and forgot about it until recently. This is the opposite of what you should do with your wedding dress after the big day. Luckily enough in this case even though the stain had set very well by this time with a little luck and patience we were able to save the dress and box it up correctly for storage. I would say the best thing a bride-to-be can do is add wedding dress planning to the to-do list.
You just spent several thousand dollars on your perfect dress and there is no reason it cannot be a keepsake passed down to your one day possible daughter or daughter-in-law. Dry cleaners provide quotes for cleaning and preserving the wedding dress and many will let you prepay for the service either on an account or on a gift card then all you have to do is have somebody drop the dress off after the wedding and forget about it until they call and let you know it is ready.

Typically, cleaners usually request about four to six weeks to do this because they try to only do three or four a week. The process of cleaning and preserving a wedding dress is pretty arduous. There are several methods to cleaning a wedding dress which can be used so the first thing is to decide what will work best on a particular dress. Then you have to press it and take it to a clean room where very little dust can collect on the dress. It must be handled with gloves so no grease gets onto the dress. Then it must be boxed so it is presented beautifully in the window of the box. It takes many hours of effort and know how to properly keep a wedding dress perfect for many years to come.

Prom season is also upon us, and this year it is a special one for me. My daughter is 18 and this will be her senior prom. I can't believe how fast she has grown up. It seems like yesterday she was watching cartoons and eating cereal on Saturday morning. We will get the dress for prom and have it fitted, cleaned and pressed so her pictures come out perfect and she makes the most of her last memories of high school. Once it is over, and she is in the real world all I can do is hope she goes out and lives up to all of her potential which she has in abundance right now at the start of her life.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

It's incredibly hard to believe, but I have been married to my first wife for almost 20 years. My wife and I had barely graduated from high school and I was getting ready to go to my first duty station in Giessen, Germany. I had known my wife for a couple of years and we had gone out on a few dates but never anything very serious.

Mostly we hung out together or studied for tests for classes we had together. I was packing my stuff getting ready to go and I realized if I left and was gone for several years I would lose my chance with this great girl so I went to Barnes Jewelry, bought an engagement ring and called her to see if she wanted to go out that evening.

I was beyond nervous. We had talked a few times that if we kept hanging out we would end up getting married, so I hope it wasn't a complete surprise when I asked. By today's standards I messed up the entire proposal. I didn't really have anything prepared so I hope it wasn't the worst proposal ever but I bet it was pretty close.

I waited until I was about to drop her off at her father's house. At that point, she hadn't started college or moved out yet. I pulled the ring out and just asked, "So, um, you want to get married?" It was not nearly as romantic or awesome as what you would see in a romantic movie or from some guy who had spent months planning some elaborate ordeal. I was 19 and hadn't really thought more than five minutes ahead.

Incredible enough, she said yes so then the real panic started because it was on the condition that her dad gave his blessing. We went to talk to her dad in his living room. I can't remember now if it was the next day or a few days later. He sat in his favorite chair by the fire and we laid it out to him. He was a great man and his only response was "well OK," which if you knew him he was a man of few words and that was about the best you could hope for.

Now that all of that was settled I told my parents everything was a go. For those of you who don't know my mom, which in Amarillo is probably not very many, she pulled the wedding together, I am going to say, in an afternoon. Making the near impossible happen is one of her specialties. Even today if she hears one of us is sick, she will make chicken soup from scratch in five minutes and it will be nearly a gourmet affair.

She lined up the church, the preacher, the bride's and groom's cakes and the reception so all my wife and I had to do was the wedding dress and honeymoon. I only had two weeks of leave before I had to report to Germany so time was of great importance. My wife may not have had the fairy tale wedding she might have hoped for, but she can clean and box a wedding dress better than most.

We are still in need of new socks and underwear for our seats and feats drive with Colorful Closets. We are thankful for the people who have already donated. The Amarillo community always amazes me at how well it will help those in need.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Being a dry cleaner is an interesting and challenging job. Sometimes I feel like the old Dunkin Donuts commercial "time to make the donuts." The day starts at 6 a.m.. You have to get the boiler going and the air compressor before any of the pressers arrive so it is at temperature and pressure by the time they get here. I have to get loads of laundry and dry cleaning ready so that when they are ready to press they have several garments waiting and ready. One of the most interesting things about dry cleaning is there is nothing really dry about the process. It actually refers to the fact that an alternative liquid besides water is used.

There are several options to choose from in today's market. We use a man made chemical that used to be the dry cleaning staple because it cleans the best, however, it is one of the more expensive options so most dry cleaners have changed to other chemicals. The dry cleaner itself is really like a giant washer that washes and dries the clothes.

It is referred to as a dry to dry system meaning the clothes go in and come out dry. You have to separate the clothes by light and dark colors and also by how delicate they are. You cannot dry clean blue jeans with delicate blouses otherwise the jeans will possibly rip or ruin the blouses. The clothes are then pressed on dry cleaning-specific presses designed for blouses or suit jackets using a mixture of heat, steam and pressure to release the remaining wrinkles.

Most people don't know this, but on the laundry side of dry cleaning the men's button-up shirts and blue jeans are actually pressed while they are still damp. The laundry presses are much hotter than the dry clean presses and they dry the garments while they are being pressed. This is why shirts and pants sent to the dry cleaner have a much better finish than what most people can achieve with a home iron.

It is also interesting that the starch is added in the wash cycle which is why you cannot have a heavy starch press only shirt. The make of the garment also plays a large role in how it takes starch. Synthetic fibers such as polyester will not stiffen like a 100 percent cotton garment will.

After all of the pressing and cleaning is done for the day, a dry cleaner's day isn't done. You have to begin getting ready for the next day and make sure customer orders are complete or if there is a garment that needs additional attention for stains. You have to decide what process you are going to use on the garment to try and get the stain out and make sure that gets taken care of so the order is still ready in a timely fashion. Customers have high expectations from the places where they do business, and it's up to business owners to do everything they can to meet those expectations and challenges.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

The surprising thing about having kids is the ridiculous things you will do to make them happy. When my oldest was about 4, we decided that every kid deserves a dog so we acquired a beautiful golden retriever. He was the cutest little puff ball with these ginormous feet.

Over the years he, of course, got much bigger and because of his great personality was certainly a part of the family. My daughter and I would take him for walks and to the park to play fetch. One time when he was about a year old or so I let my daughter hold the leash while we were walking. He saw a squirrel and took off after it. I know it's kind of mean but I remember as soon as the end of the leash hit my daughter launched two feet in the air horizontal so her feet were up in the air where her head was.

It was devastating for her, but once I knew she was OK, I had the hardest time not laughing. He would smile when he met new people, which really made them nervous especially pizza delivery guys or mailmen. He would let us hug him when we cried or just be there for whatever we needed as a family. About two years ago he started having organs fail and they ran all sorts of tests but couldn't pinpoint what was wrong. He pretty quickly passed away. This was very devastating to my two daughters.

He had been a part of the family as long as either of them could remember. One day several months later, my daughters convinced me we needed another dog so we loaded up in the car and adopted a sweet little black lab. She on the other hand is like my youngest daughter and is just as ornery as she can be. I wonder if animals take the temperament of the ones they grow up with. My oldest daughter is sweet and loyal and tenacious just like our golden was and my youngest is fearless but will get into and try almost anything.

A few months went by and everybody got accustomed to each other when my little sister called and said her barn cat had kittens and wanted to know if we wanted one. My 7-year-old couldn't resist so we got a kitten. I made the mistake of not getting her fixed or rather I just kept meaning to do it and time got away from me so of course she ended up pregnant and had a litter of kittens. Out of the six, my daughters wouldn't let me get rid of four of them. If you are a parent of little girls you will understand how hard it is to say no to those little precious faces when the bottom lip comes out and they just melt your heart. Needless to say I am now in the middle of a cat-tastrophy with five cats, two daughters and a dog.

I think it is the responsibility of small business owners to give as much back to the community as they can. We support a local charity here in town called Colorful Closets. They provide outfits to children in need and organize and distribute tenderly used and new clothing for children and adolescents throughout the Amarillo area. They seek to fill this need for those in our area while also ministering to them with the hope of spreading the love of Christ. With that in mind, this month we are doing a seats and feets drive for socks and underwear. We ask anybody who would to bring new socks and underwear in any size to either our Paramount or 34th and Bell locations. Thanks in advance for helping us support this cause.

Dry cleaning is an unusual business. I think there are few people who dream of being a dry cleaner growing up or at least it wasn't something I had thought about. I graduated from Amarillo High in 1999 and immediately joined the Army, got married and had a kid. My plan was to be career military mostly because my grandfather had been a career officer.

My wife and I were immediately stationed at a little post in Germany, where we spent the next four years --- or at least she did. I was sent to Kosavo, Bulgaria, and finally as a part of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Needless to say when my initial five years was up we realized I had only been around for about six months of our then 4-year-old daughter's life.

So I didn't reenlist and instead we went to college. Then in 2010 I had the opportunity to go to Afghanistan and instruct the special forces on how to be soldiers and set up supply lines. It was an interesting time we lived on small forward operating bases and often times on Afghan bases. After four years or so, we decided it was time for me to come home. We wanted to achieve the dream of owning our own business, which is how we ended up becoming dry cleaners.
The first year was absolutely hectic. We had to learn everything involved from scratch with very little experience.

Luckily enough the first one we bought was just a small cleaners and it gave us the opportunity to learn every position from pressing suits and suit pants to blue jeans and men's shirts. We also had to learn the difference between man-made materials such as spandex and natural materials such as cotton.

Each material and even what weave is used to make the garment makes a difference on how it should be processed from the way it is cleaned to the way it is pressed. Several years and lots of experience later we can tell nearly everything we need to know just from the feel and look of a garment. If you have any questions I can address feel free to send them through the contact information we list at the end of my column each week.

David Koen is an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaners and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

I was a part of the invasion force into Iraq in 2003. You will never understand the might of the U.S. military until you see it lined up at a border about to take over another country. I stood on top of my Humvee and looking as far as the eye could see in every direction were military vehicles and soldiers. We advanced across the country all the way to Tikret and then back down to Baghdad. After taking over the airport and the city, we were tasked with finding and retraining Iraqi police in a suburb of Baghdad.

This was an interesting time because Iraqi police like many other parts of the world do not work at night and will not investigate a crime without monetary incentive from the victims or their families. Needless to say trying to get them to operate like a western police force was difficult.

Thankfully since that time, my daily interactions with people are much more pleasant and as a dry cleaner I get to know each one of my customers and how their lives are and what their preferences are such as starch level or whether they want their blue jeans washed or dry cleaned.

We have some of the best customers, especially when they pull an interesting prank on us. We have a customer who came in and picked up one of his orders. While he was in the shop, he asked what we would charge to clean his chicken suit. This is not a question we get asked every day, as I'm sure you can imagine, so we quoted him a price we thought was fair. He agreed and said he would bring it in next time. The next time he came in we asked about the chicken suit. He advised us that a friend of his had borrowed it and ruined it. Our employees are thought it would be funny to attach some feathers to the outside of his order bag as a memorial to the destroyed chicken suit. A few weeks later the owner received this email from our website

"Good afternoon!

A few weeks ago I dropped off a handmade comforter to be cleaned. I had forgotten to ask if you could repair a small rip in the material when I dropped it off. Due to this rip, it appears that a large number of feathers flew out of the comforter as it was being cleaned. Normally, this would not be a big deal to me, but these feathers were plucked from exotic western Peruvian peacocks. The feathers are highly valuable due to their many rainbow colors, water resistance, as well as their gentle touch. My hope is that you did not throw these feathers away and that I will be able to stuff them back into the comforter. Please give me a call and let me know if this option will fly with you.

Rooster Eggelston"

This, of course, turned into hours of the owner looking through all of the recent comforter orders to find a Rooster Eggelston which, from the name, we should have surmised this was a prank.

Several days later the aforementioned customer came in with a new order and asked if we had received an unusual email, which he had sent. Touche, customer, touche.

David Koen as an Amarillo native who owns Doche Cleaders and is an active member of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute. Learn more at

Well, hello winter. One of the things I should be used to growing up in Amarillo is the sporadic weather. I look forward to the fall and I know I shouldn't because it seems like we get a few days of it and then winter hits as quick and as hard as it can.

This means I will be staying in as much as possible during the cold months. With that in mind, I am looking forward to seeing a new movie coming out this month called "Ford vs Ferrari." It stars Matt Damon as Carol Shelby and Christian Bale as Ken Miles. It is about Henry Ford II wanting to buy Ferrari, including the racing team. After a year or so of negotiation, the talks fell through with Enzo Ferrari rebuffing Ford and telling him he couldn't buy Ferrari, which was something Ford rarely heard that -- there was something he couldn't buy with his money.

So Ford and then CEO Lee Iacocca enlisted the help of a Texas chicken farmer turned race car driver then builder Carol Shelby to help them build and design a car to beat Ferrari at the 24 hours of Lemans, which Ferrari had won several years in a row and that Ford had wanted to buy Ferrari for. This began the legacy of the GT40, Ford's first race car in 1967.

Throwing lots of money into the project, the team at Ford soon realized money was not going to win such an endurance race like the 24 hours of Le Mans. This is an unusual race because unlike most races the winner wins by covering the most distance in 24 hours instead of covering a set distance in the shortest time. It is one of the most prestigious races for endurance. It started in 1923 near the town of Le Mans, France, and has continued through today.

Through trial and error, the team at Ford figured out how to make the brakes not overheat. They had to fix numerous aerodynamic issues such as the car lifting off the ground once it hit 200 mph. The testing phase was so intense one racer quit in the middle because he thought it was too dangerous and he was afraid for his life. These are not the safer racing machines we have today. There were few safety features and technology was limited. They basically put the biggest engine in the smallest car they could. However, Ford did eventually win Le Mans four consecutive times, ending Ferrari's dominance of endurance racing.

Several years ago I was in-between jobs and took one delivering furniture for a furniture company. One day we went to one of the smaller towns around Amarillo to deliver a customer's new bedroom suit. He had us bring it through the garage. We had to wiggle around the car parked there, and lo and behold, it was one of Carol Shelby's Cobras.

It was there with no car cover, dusty and with restaurant wrappers in the seat in traditional Shelby blue. For those of you who don't know, the Shelby Cobra is considered to be one of the most important American cars ever built and a staple for many car collectors. I asked him if I could take a look at it. I noticed it was an automatic. I didn't think they made any in automatic and so assumed it was some sort of kit car. He told me a great story.

He was one of Shelbys photographers in the 60′s and 70′s, and Carol had given him the car from his personnel collection. The story he told was Shelby did not like driving manual cars and so had three built as automatics for Shelby to drive. Shelby gave him the car as a thank you for several years of being with the company. He said he would never sell it because his friendship with Shelby was more important than the money. You never know what you will run into sometimes because I bet if the story were true, this would be a multimillion dollar car sitting in the garage of a small house with more sentimental value than monetary. Only in Texas would that be the case, I think.