Gather up your broken, ripped, wobbly, squeaky, dull, unworkable and otherwise unhappy items…. 

The Repair Café is returning to the Charlotte Congregational Church for its third round on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

So you’ve never been and are wondering what is a Repair Café?

It’s the brainchild of Martine Postma of the Netherlands. She organized the very first Repair Café in Amsterdam in 2009. The idea was picked up by our local group, Transition Town Charlotte, which creates projects supporting local economic, social and environmental health and sustainability.

Repair Cafés are an easy and inexpensive (often free) means for folks to keep many of their belongings repaired and in working order. From our talented towns, a group of skilled repair folk are asked to volunteer their handy skills for four hours on a Saturday. Anyone with broken stuff is then invited to bring it to the Repair Café and watch the handy folks fix it for no charge.

Besides keeping our stuff in working order, other benefits include reducing our carbon footprint, building our community and learning new skills. These are fun events where the fixees and fixers chit chat and learn from each other. The fixee is expected to at least stick around and offer moral encouragement to the fixers.

Ruah Swennerfelt, who has helped organize Repair Cafés in Charlotte, notes that “I have so enjoyed the joy I see when several fixers, after having labored over something broken that is a challenge, find the solution – watching them, with their heads together, collaborating, using their skills and putting their heart into finding a way to do the repair. The recipients of the repairs to their items are as joyful—the repair of a valued cuckoo clock, a lovely music box, a cherished sweater or a needed humidifier, even an old pants presser!”

Jamey Gerlaugh, who coordinated the last Repair Café, notes, “The goal is not to replace local business offerings but to fill in the gaps by providing repairs that are too small for a local business to tackle or too mysterious for an owner to even know where to begin. For many unusual and older items there is no longer an official shop handling their maintenance. This is where local handy people get creative and put their brains together. Some local business folk may even come and offer some minor services for free in the hope of making connections and attracting business down the road.”

Every Repair Cafe’ is different as the mix of fixers changes. At the café last spring in Hinesburg we tackled clothing, holey knits, curtains, small electric appliances, small office equipment, clocks, DVD and CD players, furniture, toys, dolls, lamps, watch bands and bicycles, and we tuned small engines, sharpened tools, replaced watch batteries and repaired jewelry. This time we might offer bicycle tune-ups, smartphone repairs and simple computer fixes depending on our mix of volunteers. Some attendees just want to know what to do with some items. If a job is too big for the Repair Café they may be directed to a local shop for repair.

What do the attendees say? Lollie Krawitt attended the spring Repair Café in Hinesburg and noted it was “a friendly place [where] volunteers of varied backgrounds and talents happily took on all sorts of items needing repairs. One fellow fixed our old 8mm movie projector. Another fellow threaded the film through the projector.”

All attendees are asked to preregister so the fixers know what to expect. To preregister please email Jamey Gerlaugh. If you want to be a fixer, contact Jamey to volunteer. We welcome your broken, your ripped, and your problematic stuff.

The event is being sponsored by Transition Town Charlotte, the Charlotte Library, the Charlotte Grange and the Charlotte Congregational Church.