Toss it? No Way! Find a Repair Café!
When a household item like a lamp or stand mixer breaks, many of us know no other option but to throw it away. Enter the Repair Cafe, an international model for pop-up events where those skilled in fixing various things — from broken bicycles to mending clothing — volunteer their time to fix your broken things. These "repair coaches" can also teach you how to fix your own things so next time it breaks, you can fix it yourself. Repair Cafes are an important part of the circular economy — they help keep things out of the landfill, and save resources and energy (and money!) by not having to buy something new.
There are two Repair Cafes in Chester County — the Downingtown Repair Cafe, and the Phoenixville Repair Cafe.
The Downingtown Repair Cafe's most recent event, held on March 11, saw 52 visitors with 81 items to be repaired, including lamps, electric/mechanical items, clothing items to be sewed, computers and other electronic items, as well as bikes and bike tires. Knife sharpening was also available. A total of 57 items were repaired, while 22 items were not able to be repaired for various reasons (parts were needed or no volunteers had the skills to make the repair).
The Phoenixville Repair Cafe fixes similar items, and they also try to add a related activity at each of their four events per year (at their April RC they held a seed exchange). "It's just as much about building community as it is about fixing things," said Tiffany Bregovi, the organizer of the Phoenixville Repair Cafe. The Phoenixville Repair Cafe holds four events per year — two in the spring, and two in the fall — at the Technical College High School Pickering Campus. They typically have around 16 fixer volunteers at each event.
Bob Berkowitz is the leader of the Downingtown RC. Prior to moving to Chester Springs, Bob was involved in Repair Cafes in New York. Recently he's been approached by various groups interested in starting their own Repair Cafe, and he is excited to help new groups form. Similarly, Tiffany Bregovi says her dream is to have Repair Cafes in every community in southeastern PA. It's a highly replicable model that can be valuable in any community.
Stop by the next Repair Cafe, which will be held on May 13 at the Central Presbyterian Church in Downingtown from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.