Above: The Zimmermans make their rounds in a new Ford van bearing a magnetic sign for Zimms.
Azi and Emily Zimmerman were looking for a slower pace of life when they moved from his hometown, Passaic, N.J., to hers, Atlanta, in June 2014. But they’re constantly on the go since opening Zimms Dry Cleaning three months ago.
Zimms combines the speed and quality of a high-end cleaner with free pickup and drop-off. The business concentrates on the North Druid Hills area but goes wherever there’s a need.
“The whole concept (of pickup and delivery) is outer space for some people,” Emily said. “Once they try it, they’re hooked.”
The way the service works is the Zimmermans get phone or email requests for pickups and contact regular customers to ask whether they need pickups on specific days. The usual pickup days are Sunday through Wednesday, but they’ll also do Thursday and Friday mornings if needed.
Customers fill bright-green laundry bags with the Zimms logo, which they get when they register at www.zimmsdrycleaning.com, and leave them outside their doors for pickup.
Some customers save up their dry cleaning for a month and get it all done at once. Zimms also provides a wash-and-fold laundry service that Emily said is “great for camp mommies.”
Because I was writing about their work, I gave these young entrepreneurs two pieces to dry-clean: a skirt with a missing snap and a jacket that came back stained from a $1.99 cleaner, whose message was that it couldn’t be cleaned better without damaging the material.
Zimms speedily returned both items spotless. The cleaner even sewed on the missing snap without charge, something Emily said they do for small repairs.
Zimms’ competitors are other high-end cleaners, not the cheap places around the corner, and Zimms saves customers a stop, Emily said. “We’re literally offering a service that makes life easier.”
The former Emily Garber graduated from Greenfield Hebrew Academy and Yeshiva Atlanta High School (both now part of Atlanta Jewish Academy). She attended a seminary in Israel and moved to Passaic, where she became a paralegal.
She became a frequent Shabbat guest of the Zimmermans, whose son Azi was learning in a yeshiva in Israel. When he returned, the couple met, and they married in January 2014.
As soon as they arrived in Atlanta, Azi started working at Three Pillars Recruiting, a job agency, while Emily worked as a paralegal. Interested in branching out, Emily started a dog-walking business, Pawlanta Dogs, and a kosher food delivery service, Kosher2U.
Then Azi had the idea for Zimms. Up north, he saw this door-to-door cleaning service work well in the Jewish community. “In Passaic, there are two businesses like this,” he said, “and I wanted to try it here where the Jewish community is becoming more cosmopolitan.”
The Zimmermans are aware of the needs of the Jewish community, as when a holiday is approaching. “We have that extra added benefit of Jewish knowledge for time-sensitive issues,” Azi said. “And we don’t charge extra for a rush job before yom tov or any other time.”
On their website, a kittel (a white garment sometimes worn by a groom at his wedding, by the leader of the Passover seder and by men on the High Holidays) is listed at the top of the price list. Emily, who designed the creative site, tried to insert the item at the bottom, but when it appeared at the top, she left it there.
“This has taken over from walking dogs,” said Emily, who included on the website a picture of the company’s mascot, Beans, the couple’s Yorkie. She has the title of CEO of cuteness.
Although their dry-cleaning plant closes at 7, the Zimmermans make deliveries at night. Azi recently gave up his day job at Three Pillars to work full time at Zimms. Before, Emily picked up the clothes during the day, and she and Azi delivered cleaned items four nights a week, which Emily called “our date nights.”
Now they’re riding side by side during the day as well.
In opening Zimms, the couple took the advice of Jewish entrepreneur Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and star of “Shark Tank,” who stressed never to take out loans to start a business.
“We do everything ourselves,” Azi said, “and don’t pay tons of money for marketing.” They pay attention to each customer’s needs, such as honoring requests for starch and offering a choice of laundered shirts delivered on hangers or in boxes.
“And we deliver with a smile,” Azi said.
The Zimmermans hope to encourage others to create self-sustaining businesses. “People should have the ability to go after their dreams,” Emily said.