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Feature Stories

Founding Member: Shipley’s Garment Spa

Change is constant in business. Throw in a global pandemic, technological advances and an evolving economy, and the Sioux Falls of 2022 looks vastly different than the Sioux Falls of 1922 or 1907, or even earlier.

Several long-established businesses in the area hold the designation as “founding members” of the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. This means they were early investors in the city’s premier business organization and have maintained their Chamber membership for 100 years or more; through changes in name, location or even ownership. The constant has been their belief in investing in Sioux Falls.


Shipley’s Garment Spa

In the early days of Sioux Falls, you could make a phone call by dialing just one number. City Hall, the Police Department and the Fire Department were the first three. No. 4? Shipley’s. There’s an old laundry bag that hangs in an office that has “Phone 4 for Shipley’s” printed on it.

Today Susie and Gerry Wingler own and operate Shipley’s Garment Spa, the third generation to run the company. Susie’s grandfather Sam Speier operated the business after the family settled in Sioux Falls. Susie’s father, Sam Speier Jr., took over after World War II. The Winglers became partners in the mid-1980s.

Shipley’s original laundry plant opened in 1902 as a new facility on 9th Street across from City Hall. In the beginning it was only laundry, which used water to clean. In 1927, Speier introduced the Zoric System of dry-cleaning to Sioux Falls — a new industry for clothes and fabric care. Speier also added complimentary pickup and delivery, using a horse and wagon.

A 1988 fire in the plant destroyed the building and much of its history. The family tore the building down and made it a parking lot, reestablishing the business across the alley way. Over the last 120 years, Shipley’s is still providing excellent laundry service with few changes, Gerry Wingler said.

“A press is still a press. We use steam and air to run the presses and to press the garments. The laundry side hasn’t changed a whole lot. The change has been in the solvent part that does the cleaning,” Wingler said.

The solvent the industry has used has changed multiple times, Wingler said. Today it’s a green organic solvent. Technology has also made things more efficient for both employees and customers. Wingler credits their 120-year history in Sioux Falls to the support of their customers and the business community.

“Susie’s Grandpa was very civic minded,” Wingler said. “He was considered a prominent businessman. We imagine he has the same thoughts and attitudes as we do about supporting our community.”

We just believe supporting the Chamber in helping to promote commerce in the city betters the quality of life in our city.

Wingler appreciates that the Chamber advocates, promotes and cheerleads for the business community.

“In doing that, the city grows, the city prospers, and it completes the circle. We just believe supporting the Chamber in helping to promote commerce in the city betters the quality of life in our city,” he said.

“You can’t separate the dynamics of what Chamber does, what the Development Foundation does, all the civic-minded organizations that are in play in Sioux Falls. They all work together. That’s what creates quality of life that we all cherish and enjoy.”

Wingler said he and his wife would like to see the business carry on for another generation, though that remains to be seen, he said.

“We like Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls is home. We were raised here. We’re raising our families here, so we remain,” Wingler said.

There is one other change — you now have to dial a few more digits to phone Shipley’s. And the pickup and delivery service? That’s still complimentary, minus the horse and wagon.


Click below to read about another founding member.