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About Margaret’s Cleaners

Our La Jolla Flagship Location

Margaret's La Jolla LobbyMargaret's cleaners has become known to be and respected as not only Southern California's premier dry cleaning institution, but one of the nation's finest cleaning establishments.This section is a short documentary of our heritage.



Mission Statement (top)

To become the nation’s most successful couture dry cleaner by living up to our goal of providing true excellence through craftsmanship.

1953-1988 (top)

Margaret ClutterOur Founder:
Margaret Clutter

Margaret Clutter founded Margaret’s Knit Blocking in 1953. After the passing of her husband and her son being captured during the Korean war she needed something to keep herself busy. The original location in La Jolla is still in operation. Margaret’s quickly became known for fine pressing and knit blocking. For 34 years, with her extensive skill at hand washing, stain removal, alterations, pressing, knit blocking, and knit repair her business earned the reputation for being the best in the prestigious La Jolla community.

In 1988, Margaret, at the age of 80, was approached by John and Barbara Horst to see if she would consider selling her business. Initially she wasn’t ready to sell, but John convinced her to let him and Barbara come to work for her to demonstrate that she could trust them to continue her reputation for excellence. Once experiencing the work attitude and technical ability of John and Barbara she decided it would be ok to sell the business and her reputation would be in good hands.  Margaret continued to work for a year to help in the transition. As they say, the rest is history.

1988-Present (top)

Margaret's La Jolla Store OutsideLa Jolla Location

John Horst, the new owner of Margaret’s, came with 34 years of experience of owning his own large dry cleaning operation in Ohio. John was a third generation dry cleaner. It was quite a difference for John after selling his company in Ohio with 80 employees and taking over a cleaner with 5 employees. The first order of business was to develop a dry cleaning facility on the premises to be able to further control the quality of work being performed. Within the first year, Carl and Tina, John’s brother and sister in-law, moved to San Diego and came to work at Margaret’s. Both Carl and Tina worked for John in Ohio.

Carl continues to operate the cleaning facilities at Margaret’s and Tina has since retired. In 1989 Chuck, John and Barbara’s son, came to work in the business. With the addition of these family members the business quickly began to grow. A pick up and delivery service was added and soon a new location in Del Mar was added as well. To enhance the level of quality of services at Margaret’s Cleaners, the majority of the services provided were brought in house. The addition of a high quality shirt laundry and bed and table linen French Hand Laundry services were immediately well received for their improved quality.

In 1995 we began to offer our services to the fine garment retailers of San Diego providing garment cleaning, restoration, and evaluation. This part of our business has grown to the point requiring a full time representative to coordinate and serve the retailers. Our current list of retailers includes Nordstrom, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Gianni Versace, Loro Piana, Chanel, Custom Shirt Shop, Encore, Polo, and Pomegranet, to name a few.

In 2003 we expanded our services to Orange County, adding a store in Newport Beach and a delivery route which covers much of Orange County.  Before long, the shops in South Coast Plaza and Fashion Island discovered the superior quality and range of Margaret's services.  The list of retailers we service in South Coast Plaza alone makes us proud!  To view a list of retailers we service please visit the Retailer Services section of this web site.

Continuing the tradition, John and Barbara's second son Scott recently joined the team to lend a hand in future growth, handling sales for the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills retail stores. Shortly after that Jan, their daughter, joined the family business and handles the bridal department and human resources.

In late 2008, we opened another location in San Diego in Kearny Mesa just off Highway 52 at Convoy. In addition, through our joint venture with Hallak Cleaners of New York, Margaret's, through TheCoutureCleaner has a store in Las Vegas and offer full service pick-up and deliver in that area as well. Visit www.thecouturecleaner.com for more information. Stay tuned to see additional services and locations we have planned.  

Personnel (top)

Currently Margaret's employs over 60 highly trained and skilled individuals. Some of the staff have been with us since shortly after John acquired the business from Margaret. Handling the diverse designer apparel we have become known for requires that our staff develop extensive skills.

Our staff includes specialists in re-knitting, couture European style alterations, knit blocking, wedding gown preservation/restoration, French hand laundry, purse and leather detailing, just to list a few specialty skills.

Facilities (top)

Our flagship location in La Jolla includes a central processing facility with a customer call office adjacent to the plant. Satellite stores are located in Del Mar (conveniently accessible to Rancho Santa Fe and the I5 corridor) and Newport Beach servicing Orange County.

To maintain the highest quality of our work it is necessary for us to perform all our processing within a single facility. The skill set necessary has been extremely difficult to develop and we can’t imagine how difficult it would be to duplicate.

Recent & Future Developments (top)

Clean By Mail BoxMargaret’s recently expanded to service Orange County. We now service many of the stores in South Coast Plaza. All the work is being done within our existing facility in La Jolla to assure the same excellent quality we have been known for.

We set up the ability to effectively offer cleaning services by mail. We designed special packaging for shipping garments and linens to protect the finished product during shipping. Our CleanByMail™ service is especially appropriate for knit cleaning and repair, neckties, wedding gowns, hand finished shirts, purses, and fine linens. Our customer's response to both our Newport Beach location and our CleanByMail service have been excellent!

We recently developed a line of custom made products for home storage and care of your clothing. Check out the link above to "Boutique Wardrobe Products" to see our full selection of items. We continue to expand our delivery route coverage, improve our variety of services and are currently looking for a location for a new "state-of-the-art" plant.

Associations (top)

To maintain the finest services it is important that our staff network with other experts in the cleaning and service industries.  We actively participate in numerous associations to remain at the leading edge of our technical abilities and customer service. We give back to our industry by serviing on the boards of sevaral associations, conducting training programs for members and keeping in touch with industry trends.

International Fabricare Institute
Better Business Bureau
Methods For Management
Leading Cleaners Internationale
Association of Wedding Gown Specialists
The Wedding Experts
Sanitone-Certified Master Dry Cleaner

Southern California's Most Awarded Cleaner (top)

Charity Support (top)

We live in the community we service.  It is important that Margaret's gives back to acknowledge and show appreciation for the generous way the community has supported us. The following are a few of the charities we support:

Gaslamp/UCSD Med. Center Easter Bonnet Parade Beckstrand Cancer Foundation La Jolla Garden Club
Bishop’s School San Diego Chamber Orchestra Friends of the Marston House
Kids Included Together (KIT) Charity Fair Horse Show La Jolla High School
Las Patronas Jewel Ball Alpha Chi Omega-lota Nu Sundt Memorial Foundation
Ronald McDonald House Charities Helen Woodward Animal Center,
Rancho Santa Fe
Community Concerts of Rancho Santa Fe
Rancho Riding Club Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church La Jolla Country Day School
Rotary Club of La Jolla

Make-a-Wish Foundation of San Diego

San Diego Opera
Aquatic Adventures Science Education Foundation Fashion Group International
& Scripps Cancer Center
Youth Employment Services, Harbor Area, Costa Mesa
Zoological Society of San Diego St. Therese Academy Epliepsy Foundation of San Diego County
Newport Harbor High School PTA Grad Night Bird Rock Elementary School Les Lumiéres, San Diego French American School
  Patrons of the Prado, Balboa Park  

Preferred Vendor (top)

Margaret's Cleaners has been chosen to be the preferred vendor for more than 70 garment retail stores and bridal boutiques in San Diego and Orange County. 

In addition to the numerous clothing stores we provide our services to Margaret's has been chosen as a preferred vendor for many resorts and businesses. Ask your seamstress, wedding coordinator, or reception site to see if Margaret's is on their list.

To see a list of vendors Margaret's recognizes as exceptional in their area of expertise, visit our Resource LInks section.





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