Marblehead is and has always been a town full of small family businesses. From restaurants to marketplaces, many are establishments where everyone knows one another. They are places that become more than just a spot to shop or eat.
Town resident Sandy Doliber knows that first-hand.
Doliber has lived in Marblehead her whole life, and until its closure, had been an employee at Mayflower Dry Cleaners. After serving Marblehead for 87 years, Mayflower closed its doors on Jan. 20. In 1987, Doliber’s brother and sister-in-law purchased the Mayflower from its former owner. Doliber joined the business eight years later in 1995.
“They took me in and everyone was so friendly there, working with them,” she said. “It was a good thing.”
In 2004, the business was sold to David Schleri, who brought in members of his own family to work with him alongside Doliber, who remained an employee through the transition.
“It was a family turnover and his family started working there as well along with me,” she said.
Schleri maintained ownership until the business’ closure in January. Mayflower’s run, which began in 1936, ended due to the change in dry cleaning habits that resulted from the pandemic. Doliber had enjoyed meeting and helping customers who came into the laundromat for the better part of 28 years and was saddened when it closed.
“I was sad because it’s been there for 87 years,” she said. “I was sad to see it closing but I understood too, because when COVID hit, it really did a number on people’s dry cleaning.”
Before Doliber was employed at Mayflower, she had worked for Dr. William Tenenbaum’s orthodontist office in town for 30 years. She left shortly after he passed unexpectedly.
Even though Doliber had worked in local businesses for 58 years, she decided that she was not done working yet.
“When he said he (David Schleri) was going to close, I decided I was not really ready to retire yet,” Doliber said.
That’s when she got the idea to apply to yet another staple family business.
“I said ‘You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to go down and talk to the Shubies,’ ” she said. “Because they are so nice and they’re family. You walk in there and its family.”
Doliber inquired about part-time work, and a week later, George Shubie offered her a position working as a cashier. Less than 200 feet from Mayflower, Doliber again found that same environment and atmosphere that she had come to love.
She said that many customers who got their clothes cleaned at Mayflower would then come down to Shubie’s for their groceries, so she still sees many of the people she met working at the Mayflower.
“They were so happy to see me,” she said after being asked what her interactions were like with customers at Shubie’s. “They were like ‘Oh my God there you are! We thought you retired and we’d never see you!’ ”
“Well, here I am!,” Doliber exclaimed.
She added that being a “people person” has driven her to work in small businesses such as Shubie’s.
“I’m very people oriented. Everybody is just so friendly,” Doliber said.
She said working at a marketplace is a big change from working in a laundromat, but she enjoys it all the same.
“It was a great transition. It was different from working at the cleaners bringing in clothes, now I’m dealing with food and wine. It’s really very different, and it’s really fun.”
Doliber plans to work at Shubie’s for the foreseeable future and feels lucky to have worked at two town-favorite businesses.
“I was very fortunate to be able to work at Mayflower, and I’m very fortunate to have joined Shubie’s team,” she said.