Get your broken stuff fixed for free! Inside the repair cafés where volunteers promise to mend everything from ripped clothes to broken lamps, bikes and stereos
- There are now 88 ‘repair cafés’ across the US – from New York to Nebraska
- Stores are run by volunteers who promise to fix customers’ goods for free
- The trend is in part sparked by a UK reality show called The Repair Shop – which has gained a cult following in the US
A growing number of American households are seeking out the help of ‘repair cafés’ where they can get their broken goods fixed for free.
As soaring inflation puts pressure on family budgets, more of us are refusing to throw away our damaged goods – and are getting them patched up instead.
According to the Repair Café Foundation, there are now 88 official venues in the US – and 1,588 globally.
These stores are run by crafty volunteers who do their best to fix anything from ripped clothes to broken lamps and vacuum cleaners.
The trend is in part sparked by a UK reality show called The Repair Shop – which has gained a cult following in the US, where it can be viewed on Netflix and previously the Discovery channel.
One café in Manhattan (pictured) has only been running since September but has already attracted a loyal following
Reddit is littered with threads of American viewers sharing their obsession with the program showing customers getting their goods – which often have sentimental value – repaired.
One café in Manhattan, New York, has only been running since September but has already attracted a loyal following.
The initiative runs on one Sunday a month from 11am to 2pm, but said demand is increasing so much that they need more volunteers.
Owner Rocio Salceda, a textile artist who specializes in repairing clothes, told Dailymail.com: ‘I grew up in Spain during the 80s. Families were extremely resourceful back then, repairing objects and clothing at home was a common practice and repair shops were everywhere in the city.
‘It was like a party. The mentality behind it was to invest in something of really good quality once, to take care of it and keep it for as long as possible. There was no shame in it.’
A volunteer at the Manhattan branch is pictured handing over a fixed lamp to a client
Other stores exist in North Carolina, Nebraska and New Hampshire and they operate as ‘pop-up’ cafés, only open for a handful of days every month
She added that seeing more households struggle with ‘skyrocketing inflation’ had inspired her to get involved.
Other stores exist in North Carolina, Nebraska and New Hampshire.
They are often housed in community centers, church basements, libraries and vacant storefronts.
Most operate as ‘pop-up’ cafés, only open for a handful of days every month.
Devotees of the crowd insist they can help customers keep costs down, but are also saving thousands of broken goods from winding up in landfill.
The US produces 268 million tons of waste each year, according to figures from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The average American is responsible for around 4.5 pounds of waste per day.
Darren Cotton, who works for The Tool Library – a repair café in Buffalo, New York – told the New York Times that his store had saved 5,000 pounds of waste since it opened in 2017.
The trend is in part sparked by a UK reality show called The Repair Shop – which has gained a cult following in the US
But not everything can be fixed. A 2022 RepairMonitor report of cafés across the globe found only 61 percent of repairs were successful.
Some 14 percent of visitors were sent home with advice on how to revive the item at home, while 25 percent of items were completely unrepairable.
Figures show dull knives and scissors, worn clothing and bikes are among the easiest objects to repair.
The boom in popularity for repair cafés comes as households are struggling to keep up with the soaring cost of living.
Figures released this week showed the rate of annual inflation in the US is currently at 4.9 percent – down from its peak of 9.1 percent in June 2022.
It marked the first time the US has seen a rise of less than five percent in less than two years – though it remains far above the Fed’s target rate of two percent.
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