LIFE & STYLE

At The Repair Cafe, Volunteers Have A Full Menu Of Items To Get Back In Working Order

By Nita Lelyveld
Los Angeles Times.

PASADENA, Calif.

Jessica Ferree brought in a toaster with a lever that no longer held slices down. Sade Musa had a torn skirt with a sagging elastic band. Jean Prinz hoped to get the blades of her scissors honed and have holes drilled into her compost bins.

Anyone with things in need of TLC is welcome to show up at the free monthly event, and volunteers with a range of skills do their best to get the items back in working order. Together, they reduce waste by not just throwing out the old and buying new.

On a recent Saturday in a Pasadena church hall dubbed The Repair Cafe, several seamstresses sat before sewing machines. Half a dozen tinkers were poised to try to solve whatever puzzles came their way. Someone was there to tackle computer problems, someone else to mend jewelry. Haircuts, silver polishing and garden design consultations were available too.

Not that people had to fit neatly into set roles. Give-and-take was very much encouraged. So while she waited for help on her projects, Prinz perched outside, offering passersby some of her red wriggler worms, which were squirming in wet newspaper in a bucket, near seedlings also for the taking.

Quite a few people brought items from home to recycle in the cafe’s “really, really free market.”

One woman who’d had her fill of Weight Watchers laid out a collection of the program’s cookbooks, which another woman happily scooped up. Clothing hung on racks, and tables were piled high with bric-a-brac, toys, DVDs.

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