The Rise of the Repair Cafe

Photo by Ilvy Njiokiktjien (Stichting Repair Café)

Here’s a brilliant idea that I stumbled upon last week on Facebook: Repair cafes! Apparently these are a thing in the United States. People bring broken things of all shapes and sizes — everything from garden tillers and bicycles to lamps and microwaves — to a repair cafe, where expert fixers are available to repair the items.

Here’s a video featuring a repair cafe in Palo Alto, California. This is not the original video I saw on Facebook, but it does a better job of the one I saw in my news feed of explaining what repair cafes are and why they are important. Keep an eye out for the grandma fixing a video game controller!

I think the repair cafe is a fantastic idea! It really cuts down on waste on going to the landfill — one of the gentlemen in the video said their success rate at fixing items was about 70 per cent — but I think it also creates a sense of community by bringing people together. And those people are coming together not only to save money and help the environment, but also to learn new skills that could be applied to other items.

I haven’t heard of any repair cafes going on yet in Edmonton, but this idea could really go hand-in-hand with the Edmonton Tool Library, which I talked about on this very blog a little while ago. It might be a little tricky to find expert fixer who could repair more specialized items, but as the word spreads, hopefully more and more people would be willing to volunteer their time.

Do you have repair cafes in your town? Have you ever taken an item to one? Could you see yourself volunteering to help others repair their items? Let me know in the comments.

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