Frequently Asked Questions
Photos by Melissa Walker-Scott
What exactly is the Repair Café?
Five Cities Repair Café is a volunteer-driven organization patterned after the Repair Café movement that started in the Netherlands and now is flourishing worldwide. The aim of the Repair Café movement is to reduce the amount of “stuff” that ends up in the waste stream by helping you fix items that you might otherwise throw away.
What have been your experiences so far?
Our first event was October 6, 2019. Over 50 neighbors brought their broken household items to our event where repair volunteers worked with them to help restore their items to working order. Typically visitors and volunteers at Repair Cafés work on bicycles, sewing projects, lamps, jewelry & crafts, small household appliances like toasters, irons and vacuum cleaners, luggage, small mechanical things like lawnmowers and weed whackers, electrical appliances like clocks, fans, and computers and computer-related items. Our inaugural event's fix it success rate was almost 100% (we were only flummoxed by a couple IT questions).
How much do you charge for this service?
The events are free, and Repair Café doesn’t charge for repairs. If the purchase of repair parts is required, and they are available, you will be asked to pay for them at cost. Of course, we encourage donations to help cover other expenses, like food for our volunteers, miscellaneous supplies, and spare parts that we keep on hand.
Can you tell me in advance if you can fix my broken item?
Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to know whether we can fix your broken item unless you bring it to the Repair Café to have one of our volunteers diagnose it.
Where and when is the next Repair Café?
See our "Home Page" for the current schedule. Events run from 1:00-5:00 pm. Please arrive before 4:30 pm, as this increases the likelihood of our having enough time to fix your item.
What should I expect if I come to the Repair Café?
If demand is high, do expect a wait; come equipped with reading material and be ready to enjoy the community spirit of the Repair Café.
What if you cannot help me fix my broken item?
Often, if our volunteers can’t fix your item, they can offer advice on what you might need to fix it yourself. If an item is beyond repair, check with your local waste hauler or city utilities department to see what to do with broken items.
How can I support the Repair Café movement?
Volunteer - Send us a note at our email address. Besides fixers we also need greeters, intake or reception staff and help with marketing, refreshments, and set up/take down.
Donate - Five Cities Repair Café is a non-profit that has been taken under the wing of the South County Visitor Services 501(c)(3). We operate on the energy of our volunteers, but some of what we do costs money. Contributions of any size would be greatly appreciated and will help us expand our efforts to fulfill our mission. Donations are accepted at events, or send us an email at the email address on our Contact Us page. Organize a Repair Café in your own hometown - We would love to see more Repair Cafés and will gladly help you get started.