PEORIA — Biehl's Cleaners, a fixture in Peoria for decades, shut down its retail outlets Friday.

The business will continue to do commercial cleaning, such as drapes and bedspreads, at its commercial site at 8635 North Industrial Road, said owner Jeff Stone. However, Friday was the last day for retail operations at Junction City — where Biehl's was among the original businesses when the shopping center opened in 1958 — and 4803 N. Rockwood Drive.

Biehl's, which opened in the 1930s, was bought by Stone's family in 1956.

"I grew up in the business," said Stone, 69.

At one point, Biehl's boasted seven retail counters in the area. But that was before clothes were made to withstand the repeated rigors of washing machines, Stone said. Today, clothes that once needed tender care at a cleaners can be laundered at home.

"Why go to the cleaners if you can do it at home?" Stone said.

Plus, in decades past, people tended more toward formal dress.

"People just don't get dressed up much anymore," he said. "People used to wear a jacket and tie to work. But work has gone casual. Even at church and funerals and weddings, people don't get dressed up.

"I'm not passing judgment. That's just the way it is."

Until Friday, Biehl's employed 15 workers. With the commercial focus, Biehl's will rely on Stone, his brother and two remaining employees.

"We'll see how that works out," he said.

PHIL LUCIANO is a Journal Star columnist. He can be reached at, and (309) 686-3155. Follow him on