“You feel good when you look good.”
The well-known slogan has been a
part of Puritan Cleaners’ advertising for years, but it was probably never more
apt than after Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.
Many people in Grand Cayman were
without a roof over their heads while many more had lost their furniture and
appliances. Clean, dry clothes were almost a luxury.
Puritan Cleaners had also suffered
extensive damage, but Cardinall DaCosta had a loyal staff and a couple of
washing machines and dryers they could run on generators.
“So many people wanted our
services, but we could only take one load from each person,” he recalled in an
interview with the Caymanian Compass afterwards. Staff worked two shifts, from
7am till midnight. A curfew was in place: “We needed special passes from the
police. We had to advise police of how long we’d be on the road taking our
employees back, and getting ourselves home,” he said.
His ability to rebuild while taking
care of customers was the result of assistance from his sons Jason and Mowbrey
plus his own decades of experience in the laundry and dry-cleaning business.
He began working for another
dry-cleaning company, earning four pounds per month. Eventually he bought the
business, updated the dry-cleaning process and added a commercial laundry.
Puritan Cleaners has been operating since 1958, at one time on the waterfront
on North Church Street and now with a main plant on Eastern Avenue plus stores
in central George Town, Savannah and West Bay.
Branching out from George Town was
not a recent concept for Mr. DaCosta.
Ads in the 1966 Caymanian Weekly indicate he was even then offering West
Bay customers delivery in their own district. Recycling is not new either — he
encouraged patrons to bring their own containers.