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LONGTIME MERCHANT: No Spots on Falcon’s Horizon

A12-LONGTIME thumbTwenty-five years ago, Aram Atmaca was managing four dry cleaning stores in Queens. He didn’t have much money but he was intent on owning his own business. A broker told him about a business for sale off the main street in Rye.

 

By Robin Jovanovich

 

Twenty-five years ago, Aram Atmaca was managing four dry cleaning stores in Queens. He didn’t have much money but he was intent on owning his own business. A broker told him about a business for sale off the main street in Rye.


A12-LONGTIME MERCHANT ARAM-inside“With the town, it was love at first sight for me,” said Mr. Atmaca.

 

He bought Dutch Girl, which did cleaning by the pound, from Herb Kravitz. “I used the old machinery to do quality work, but I had to do pound cleaning the first two years to make a go of it. It took me five years to build a good clientele.”

 

When he bought the business, he renamed it Falcon Cleaners after his own last name, which means falcon in Armenian.
He put in long days at the Purdy Avenue store, from 6 to 6 in the shop and then out delivering.

 

From the beginning, Mr. Atmaca has done everything on site. “My space is an L, and there’s lots of work room in the back.” He is proud to say that there isn’t a job he can’t fill and do well.

 

He was one of the first dry cleaners in the area to switch to an environmentally friendly cleaning product. “I use a hydrocarbon solvent that is odorless and chemical-free, and causes no wear and tear on clothing.”

 

In 2008 and 2009, he said his business felt the recession, but that he has benefitted from the departure of Gruber’s, the high-end cleaner, the past two years. “I picked up a lot of their business.”

 

After 25 years in business in Rye, Mr. Atmaca is doing the cleaning for many of the children of his first customers. “Kids grow up here and a lot move back here as adults; it’s that kind of community.”

 

Born in Istanbul, his family sent him to America to be schooled when he was 18. “I went to Temple University for one year, but college was not for me. I went to my church in Jackson Heights, where I’d moved, and asked them to help me find a job. They did — as a spot cleaner!”  

 

He met his future wife in a discotheque. They raised their daughter, now 23, in Rye. After the Atmacas divorced in 1998, he moved to Scarsdale.

 

What he loves about Rye, in addition to his customers, are the other small business owners. “I did gain 15 pounds the first year working next to Sunrise Pizza, but they are wonderful neighbors.” At the end of the day, it’s not unusual to find him talking to Royal Jewels of Rye owner John Givelkian, whom he encouraged to open in town a few years back. He was excited when Open House, a home furnishings design business, opened recently across the street. “Barbara and Michele sell beautiful things and they’ve enlivened the street.”

 

What he would like to see again in Rye is a hardware store like Feinsod’s and another moderately-priced family restaurant like Cosmos. “They were a big part of the community fabric when I came here.”

 

Aram Atmaca just turned 54 but he has no thought of retiring. “I love my work. I still can’t wait to get back here after every vacation.”


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