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Austin Dry Cleaners Offer Free Flag-Cleaning Service For July 4

July 09, 2018

AUSTIN, TX — Before you wave that flag for the upcoming July 4 observance, you might want to make sure it’s nice and clean. If not, a local dry cleaner operator will clean your Old Glory free of charge in what’s become an annual tradition.

Jason Frick, co-owner of a pair of local franchises of ZIPS Dry Cleaners — a national dry cleaning chain with over 50 locations across the country — said his family’s and business partner’s military background make the offering a perfect fit for his business.

“ZIPS Dry Cleaners loves to see our neighbors fly their American flag high and proud, and we can’t help but feel a sense of pride every time we see the red, white and blue,” Fricks told Patch in a telephone interview. “That’s why we’re happy to clean them free of charge – and that’s true every day we’re open. Big or small, if it has stars and stripes, we’ll provide a complimentary cleaning.”

Born and raised in Austin, Fricks and his business partner, David Sisk — a U.S. Army veteran with three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan under his belt — have offered free flag cleaning for residents since launching their first franchise at 1803 S. Lamar Blvd. in South Austin on February 2017. The two opened their second ZIPS Dry Cleaners just this month in North Austin, a site at 2510 W. Parmer Lane that was opened on June 8.

By virtue of a strong military tradition in his family — his grandfather, father and an uncle all served their country — Frick said he liked offering free flag cleaning services not just from a business standpoint, but a personal one rooted in familial legacy as well.

“It’s an over-the-counter service we offer to the local community,” Frick said. “Most importantly, we treat the flags with a great deal of honor and respect in the way in which we prepare them. We understand and appreciate the proper care and handling and how the flag should be handled.”

When word got out about this free service, Frick said the business was inundated with requests beyond Austin — even from out of state — for flag cleaning. Employees did their best to fulfill the flood of requests, receiving flags in the mail to be cleaned before returning them to their owners spic-and-span.

This year, the focus will be exclusively on area residents’s needs, he said. As much as he’d like to offer the service beyond the region, it just got too overwhelming. But, he noted, all ZIP Dry Cleaners nationwide offer free flag cleaning too.

As for the flags themselves, Frick described a meticulous process into their cleaning. They are either dry cleaned or laundered, depending on the instructions tab, their physical condition, flags’ age and other factors. “Typically, we’ll follow the instructions on the flag,” he said. “If they don’t have one, we have testing we can do to see if the dye in the flag is going to bleed. That will determine whether to dry clean or laundry process.”

In the past, some customers have brought in flag too worn to survive the cleaning process, he said. As sad as it may sound, sometimes flags need to be respectfully retired. He suggested owners of such tattered or otherwise worn-out flags reach their local Boy Scouts troop, whose members are trained on how to properly dispose of the stars and stripes.

“Some flags are too poor in condition to safely clean them,” Frick said. “If a flag is flown year round, it may have sun damage and is fading. At some point, a flag does need to be retired.”

Frick and Sisk may one day own a dry cleaning empire in Central Texas. Frick told Patch of eventual plans for a 40-store development effort covering the region across a wide swath with corporate-defined Central Texas boundaries that actually extend well beyond — an area stretching from Waco to San Antonio also encompassing Corpus Christi on a path essentially along the Interstate 35 corridor. The regions covering the Houston and Dallas areas are considered separate corporate franchise regions, Frick noted.

What those expansion plans mean, of course, is a greater number of places to have one’s flag cleaned in the future. But for now, there are just the two local ZIPS Dry Cleaners at the aforementioned locations, but employees are just as eager to provide the service.

“We’re open six days a week,” Frick said. “Customers can bring their flags anytime we are open.”

The normal service provided by ZIPS is same-day service, but because flags are considered a household item, it takes a couple of days for customers to get their cleaned flags back, Frick said. But even if you’re not able to make it before Independence Day (the stores will be closed on July 4), the franchise owner said residents could maybe bring their flags in for a post-Independence Day cleaning.

Or, they can bring their flags throughout the year, as the free service is offered year-round, he said.

“We tend to get a good amount immediately after the holiday,” Frick said. “This is a service we offer year-round. They can bring it in the middle of October, and it’ll be the same service if they had brought it on the Fourth of July, Memorial Day or anytime else.”

For those reading this not near Austin with flags in need of cleaning, check out the national store locator here.

So get on out there, get that flag cleaned and wave it proudly for it’s a grand old flag and a high-flying flag and forever in peace may it wave — preferably fresh and so clean so it can keep gallantly streaming.

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