Mike Vany repairs a bicycle at the Repair Cafe

Mike Vany repairs a bicycle at the Repair Cafe

Repair Cafe brings the spirit of repair to Stettler

The worldwide event is based on learning new skills and keeping usable items out of landfills.

The Heartland Beautification Committee hosted their second Repair Cafe this Saturday afternoon, April 22, in the lobby of the Stettler Recreation Centre.

Community members brought in their broken items to seek help from the expert volunteers who were on hand to provide repairs and advice.

The Repair Cafe concept started in the Netherlands in 2009, and has since been adopted by 1,200 communities worldwide, including Stettler.

“The idea is to encourage the spirit of repair and keep usable items out of our landfills,” said Grace Fix, vice-chair of the Heartland Beautification Committee.

Stettler residents brought in a variety of items for repair, from lawn mowers to electric guitars.

On hand to help with repairs were experts in a variety of categories including clothing, bicycles, small engines, small appliances, wooden items, and computers.

“We did about 45 repairs in four hours, similar to what we did during our first Repair Cafe last September,” Fix said. “The busiest repair categories were small appliances and bicycles. The oldest items that were successfully repaired were a transistor radio and an antique lamp.”

Some of the volunteers were professionals in their fields, while others had learned their repair skills through personal interest and curiosity.

“Volunteers are never difficult to find,” Fix added. “They volunteer very willingly to offer their expertise and advice.”

Jim McKnight, one of the volunteers offering help with small appliance repair, was one of those who learned his skills through passion rather than profession.

“I just started taking things apart,” McKnight said of his repair experience. “You get tired of buying new stuff so you learn to fix old stuff.”

Local businesses were also involved in the event, but those who volunteered their time simply came out because they wanted to help the community.

“I’ve given out a lot of business cards so far,” said Tyler Hudgeon, who was offering computer repair services. “That’s not really why I’m doing this though. I just came here to help out.”

All of these volunteers, Fix explained, were not just there to offer a service, but also to help people in the community learn about repair.

“The concept is not that you come in here with your toaster and say ‘please repair my toaster,’” she commented. “The idea is that you and the expert volunteer work together and hopefully repair the item, and then maybe you leave with a new skill.”