Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Repair Shop

Darn socks, replace toaster solenoids, screw on a new chairleg
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It's got to be cool like an Apple Store, not hippy and arty like a craft shop, and definitely not greasy and nerdy like Games Workshop or Maplin. But it's a bit of all of them.

It'll sell needles, and threads and screws and some bits of circuitry.

There are "genius bar" equivalents, where you can get advice on electronics ("oh yes, that just needs a new x" or "it's buggered, but we can sell you a better one if you want") or on carpentry, I suppose. Maybe bikes too? Scooters? Cars?

There are classes, which you would book into online. Twenty places, Saturday morning at 11am and we'll all be darning holes in socks, sitting round a big wooden round-table worktop in the middle. You and the girlfriend turn up with your socks, a teacher darns socks and talks you through the real basics while his hands are projected onto a screen for all to see. You chat and joke about how useless you are with the other participants, all while learning skills that your (grand)mother never taught you. Maybe buy a coffee.

Or you all turn up with your broken toasters, and we unscrew them, have a look inside and see if we can spot common faults. There are sockets in the middle of the table so you can test it after each check, to see if you uncovered the problem.

If you need a certain colour or thread or wool, or you need to buy some solder, or a solenoid, or some wire, you can just go and pick it off the wall, pay for it, and come back to the table.

These classes are like Games Workshop battles, in that it's social and designed to make you buy stuff, and part Apple Store teach in that there's a single expert guiding you through a complicated set of tasks. The classes would cost something like £3.99, all to the expert, and the shop just hopes people buy stuff.

The shop has soldering equipment, sewing machines, big tools you wouldn't have at home, that sort of thing.

This feels like a right-on-the-zeitgeist business to me. My generation knows we shouldn't be buying and throwing away, but we've no idea how to fix even basic things. We need to save money because we've been made redundant. And we're looking for sociable things to do that aren't as crass as clubbing.

Neid, Apr 13 2009

Baked in Amsterdam already, I think http://www.platform...age/4315/nl?lang=en
However I'm not sure if that's permanent? And I don't think it exists in London, where I am and where I want it! [Neid, Apr 13 2009]

Experts Exchange http://www.experts-exchange.com/
[hippo, Apr 14 2009]


       Reminds me of Home Economics classes during my comprehensive years.
skinflaps, Apr 13 2009

       It sounds good, but remember you'll only be working as fast as the slowest student. Also, the cost of the class will almost certainly be more than the cost of new socks (or toaster or whatever).
phoenix, Apr 13 2009

       [skinflaps] excellent idea for source of instructors: secondary school teachers looking for extra income. Actually maybe highschools should open up their doors on Saturday mornings for things like this. Techy teachers could guide dads on lathes too. I was imagining pre-baby couples, but why not parents too.   

       [phoenix] I hadn't thought about comparing costs, good point. I was aiming for a market that didn't mind about an extra pound or two if a) they learned something and b) they didn't throw something away.
Neid, Apr 13 2009

       Wait, are you saying you don't have a Bridgeport milling machine in your garage? I'm shocked.   

       [phoenix], nonsense. A single class may be more expensive, yes. But once you get into fixing things, you'll find that there are only a few basic principles to learn, and you can apply them far and wide. You may THINK you're only learning how to fix a toaster, but in fact, you're learning about basic enclosure methods for appliances in general, electric wiring conventions, safety, the proper uses of common tools, etc.   

       I'm fairly confident, for instance, that I could fix any normal appliance that doesn't have a computer in it, despite having never even looked at most of them from the outside.
Smurfsahoy, Apr 14 2009

       //I'm fairly confident, for instance, that I could fix any normal appliance that doesn't have a computer in it//
I used to think that, but some applicances now don't appear to designed with repair in mind.
A case in point was a simple electric steam iron. I wanted to replace the mains cord, but nearly destroyed the casing trying to open it.
coprocephalous, Apr 14 2009

       Since I assume they don't have an electric cord running through a steam containment area, you should be able to use a dremel or similar to excise the part you're worried about and resolder, without causing any leaks?   

       Steam irons are literally one of THE most difficult things you could set out to fix, anyway. Heat + water + lots of amperage + airtightness + pressure = Very dangerous and very unfriendly to imprecise engineering.   

       Should be possible, but I would stay away from that, and in most cases, microwaves (unless the broken piece has nothing to do with the magnetron)
Smurfsahoy, Apr 14 2009

       Nice idea. I think (based on little or no actual knowedge of the facts) that there exist bicycle repair co-ops which operate a little like this. Some way of tapping into individuals' expertise would be a useful addition to this. For example, last year I replaced the hard drive on my iMac G4 - a process Apple made fiendishly difficult - however, I'd now be quite confident talking someone else through the process (while accepting no liability, of course). If I belonged to this club, other members might be interested that I could do this.

Actually, maybe the best way of doing this would be run it as a 'virtual' repair shop on Yahoo! Groups or something. You'd submit a repair problem and others might offer their help, or you could look at the profiles and expertise of other members and ask them for help. This would work best if membership was confined to a geographical area, so that people could actually meet up but otherwise would be similar to what Experts Exchange (see link) is for programming help.
hippo, Apr 14 2009

       Re: computers, fun tip!   

       I've only bought Dell or IBM laptops, expressly because they make public their entire maintanance manuals from full assembly down to prying off and re-pasting your own CPU. That one fact has saved me at least $1,000 bucks so far over my last two laptops.
Smurfsahoy, Apr 14 2009

       Hackerspaces and makerspaces may be able to serve a lot of this need, though I don't know of any that have workshops for repairing specific kinds of things together at specific times. I probably won't get around to seeing if people at mine would be interested in that.
notexactly, Apr 20 2019


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