Jefferson Cleaners is the establishment which George and Louise Jefferson opened together. Different accounts are depicted on how the first cleaning store came into being, both on All In The Family, and later in the Season 6 episode of The Jeffersons titled "The First Store".
About Jefferson Cleaners
The third episode of All in the Family explained how George Jefferson started his dry-cleaning business. George Jefferson's son Lionel explains that the family used a $3,200 (around $US 18635.00, adjusted for current inflation) insurance settlement from a car accident to start Jefferson’s Cleaners. A Christmas flashback episode, which featured Sherman Hemsley playing his character's father, explained how he got the idea to open a dry cleaning business as a child after his father told him that dry cleaning was expensive. This episode also showed how George had been involved in money-making schemes since childhood, with him working as a shoe-shine boy and paying a schoolmate to push people into mud puddles, forcing them to get their shoes shined.
Rivals with Cunningham Cleaners
George Jefferson’s chief business rival was Gil Cunningham, with whom George had a considerably antagonistic relationship. Later in the series, after Gil Cunningham died, the Jeffersons discovered that Gil never desired to be enemies with George. It was revealed that Gil's wife (played by future L.A. Law star Susan Ruttan), had been the motivator behind this competition all along. In his will, Gil left George the bowling trophy he won vs. Jefferson Cleaners, with a letter inside warning George to never trust her because “she put the ‘cunning’ in Cunningham.” Gil was later proven right as Mrs. Cunningham, under the guise of still grieving over his passing, stole the idea from an ad campaign George was devising for Jefferson Cleaners, which stated that for every pound of laundry a customer would send in to be cleaned, they would be reimbursed one dollar. But in the end, after finding Gil's letter, George turned the tables on Mrs. Cunningham by bringing her all of the laundry from all seven of his cleaning stores and thereby forcing her to pay him a dollar for every pound, which amounted to $10,000.
"The First Store" episode
A later season "flashback" episode of The Jeffersons depicted the day the very first Jefferson Cleaners, first called "Handy Dandy" Cleaners store "opened" for business, or sort of, (it was at the time an abandoned store front which George bought with some money which he had collected from selling the family car) which also happened to be the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968; however, this seems to contradict the previous history established during All in the Family 's first season (in early 1971), where Lionel announced that his parents had just started their own dry cleaning business with money his father had received in a disability settlement. In the "flashback" episode, Season 6's "The First Store", the Jeffersons were attempting to get a loan approved to make direly needed renovations on the empty Harlem storefront, which was in disrepair from a Mr. William Drew (played by Roger Bowen) a loan officer at The Mercantile National Bank of Manhattan, who manages to offend George by voicing his opinions on the people who lived in the Harlem neighborhood which they live in, describing them, and those who were demonstrating with Lionel after meeting him moments after he arrived at the Jefferson home to those types who resorting rioting and looting as "savages", and voicing the rumors and false speculation of some whites who were saying that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was "a Communist". When George then balks on trying to get the loan he then throws Mr. Drew out of their apartment, which forces him to somehow to come up with a plan to make use of the storefront, which still seems to line up with the account of the first store's actual opening on "All In The Family", as he may have held on to the property until 1971, when he collected the money from the auto accident claim which netted him the money needed to finally renovate the property and open the store. The second episode is Change for a Dollar, where George and Louise start their grand opening of Jefferson's Cleaners in 1968 in Queens, New York. George and Louise made their first dollar in the store and pretty soon started a chain of dry cleaners that made them wealthy.