Smaller Wilgus store opens six months after fire


Almost exactly six months after a fire destroyed Wilgus Cleaners’ nearly 70-year-old Selbyville plant, Jeff Wilgus has opened a dry cleaning store in Selbyville. Sitting in the new store across from Arby’s on Route 113 Monday, Wilgus, a Selbyville native and resident whose grandfather started the cleaning business in Selbyville in 1939, said the Wilgus name will attract long-time customers.

Coastal Point • JONATHAN STARKEY: Jeff Wilgus recently opened up a new, smaller store in Selbyville after the original store was burned down six months ago. He also closed three other stores in Rehoboth Beach, Millsboro and Millville.Coastal Point • JONATHAN STARKEY
Jeff Wilgus recently opened up a new, smaller store in Selbyville after the original store was burned down six months ago. He also closed three other stores in Rehoboth Beach, Millsboro and Millville.

“It was the place I wanted to come back to,” Wilgus said of Selbyville. After the fire, the third-generation owner was not sure he was going to re-open in the town. “In this area everybody knows me.”

Personal dry cleaning and rug cleaning services are offered out of the small, new highway location. Dry cleaning rates start at $4.75 for pants and $1.85 for a laundered shirt. Wilgus said Monday that he is still finalizing insurance claims and considering future plans to possibly re-expand the cleaning business the Wilgus’ once flourished with here.

The former Selbyville location that burned practically to the ground on May 6 served personal and local commercial customers, mostly hotels and restaurants. After the fire, with no room to further facilitate those commercial customers, Wilgus said he turned that business over to Capital Cleaners out of Dover.

Before opening the new Selbyville store about two weeks ago, Wilgus also closed his cleaners’ locations in Rehoboth, Millsboro and Millville, confining the business only to its new Selbyville spot.

“It’s been slow,” Wilgus said of initial business, joking that customers usually don’t carry laundry around in their cars but are excited about the store’s opening. “They’ll come here because of me.”

After receiving a call on the morning of the May 6 fire, Wilgus arrived at his main production plant about 5:30 a.m. that morning to find it ablaze. The fire, which claimed the building and all its contents, caused more than $2 million damage but no one was injured, according to the State’s fire marshal and Wilgus.

“It’s hard to describe what you were feeling,” Wilgus said. “I’m glad no one was hurt. I just put it into perspective. It was a part of my life, not my whole life.”

Wilgus’ grandfather first opened the store, and the business, out of Selbyville in 1939 before his son took over in 1962. Jeff Wilgus assumed ownership from his father about 15 years ago, he said Monday.

Until May 6, Wilgus Cleaners was a premier spot for personal and commercial cleaning services with its main production plant in Selbyville and stores in Rehoboth, Millsboro and Millville. The business’s future, though, still remains undetermined.

“I live a Godly life,” Wilgus said. “When one door’s closed, another is opened. I just don’t know what that door is yet.”