In the old days a tinsmith or tinker might travel around looking for work. They’d show up and fix various home goods made of metal. Itinerant repairmen of various trades were not unusual. For example cobblers used to visit farms and make or repair shoes, often for families that they had worked with for years. In the first half of the 20th century, companies offered repairmen for their products in the name of customer satisfaction, but that is now a dwindling trend.
With our consumer economy many of the skills involved in repairing have been shifted to the consumer, who may not always have the time or the knowledge to make the repairs when something breaks. This is where repair cafés can come in very handy. They basically function like a repair fair for bikes, clothes, home goods, electronics, and even computers – all serviced by people in the community with the knowledge and motivation to keep these items from going into the landfill. While they can’t repair everything they see, the repair rate is about 70%.
We probably wouldn’t advise taking your antique items to a repair café, but for older, serviceable items this kind of event makes a lot of sense. Repaircafe.org offers a search engine for repair cafés all over the world. Local governments have also gotten involved and sometimes offer repair cafés, so check your county or city website (or even Facebook) if you don’t see a repair café listed near you. What do you think of this idea? Would you visit a repair café?
Watch the below about the Palo Alto repair café and how it got stared.