Refuse, reduce, reuse and repair all come before recycle on our priority list. Repair keeps materials out of landfills and reduces demand for virgin materials. But where should I take my broken printer, worn shoes, or beloved watch when it stops working? This guide talks you through various categories and explains your repair options if you live in North Seattle. There are some fantastic Seattle families who have been passing down the art of repair from generation to generation. It’s a pleasure to be their patrons instead of buying new junk!
Inkjet printers are notorious for refusing to print well unless you use them constantly. Their plastic parts (made from fossil fuels), contain toxic materials and present a real headache for recyclers. I find it best to refuse inkjets altogether. We buy sturdier black & white laser printers by Brother which print double-sided and have lasted us a decade or more.
Inkjets are cheap, it’s true! But since I don’t print much in color, I’ve found it’s even cheaper and less hassle to send my full-color files to the corner copy shop. I love the quick and easy service that Top Notch Copy & Print provides. Late at night, I’ll upload a file, and they have it printed for me by the next morning. We take a nice walk or bike ride over to see Shakeel or his friendly colleagues, pay them for the copies and forget about the whole inkjet hassle!
However, we have an all-in-one printer/scanner from an older family member, and of course it has stopped working. I tried every troubleshooting tip and new ink, but no luck. This week, I’ll be taking it to Cartridge World over in Redmond for a $10 diagnostic and deep clean. Fingers crossed they can fix it!
Watches and Phone Repair
If we’re talking about high-tech modern watches, uBreakiFix is a good place to start. The nice folks at the location in the UDistrict have been able to help me with various issues with iPhones and iPads recently. They even gave me their old cord for my 1st gen iPad when that was the only cord we could find that would still successfully charge it!
For actual analog and digital watches, however, I’m a real fan of Timely Matter on Lake City Way. They recently moved locations after many decades in Lake City. Asa P. and his hilarious Grandpa have repaired many a watch for me, helped me replace bands and tiny metal parts that hold the bands on, etc. All kinds of stuff. Their prices are half what I paid at the mall, and they’re great to talk to as well.
Shoe Repair and Clothing Alterations
I strongly recommend Swanson Shoe Repair in Wallingford, family owned since 1928! I’ve taken several items there, including Birkenstock sandals, leather boots, etc. It’s been great to extend the life of my favorite footwear with repaired soles and a nice polish. They also do handbags. And on their website, they recommend other repair shops that can work on luggage and hiking boots.
When buying shoes, I try to avoid the really junky kind from the mall. It does cost around $150 for a good pair of shoes. You want quality materials that will last a long time and withstand repair. Quality shoes are better for your feet and will save money in the long run. It’s an old adage that it’s expensive to be poor. If you can only afford $20 shoes and need to replace them every year, you’ll pay more over 10 years than someone who could afford the durable $150 pair. Fortunately, it’s possible to find $150 shoes for $15 at Goodwill on a lucky day. Even durable kids shoes and boots are available for a great price at Kym’s Kiddie Corner, or possibly for free in your Buy Nothing group. All you need to do is ask!
For clothing, most dry cleaners will do alterations or new zippers, buttons, etc. I haven’t personally tried Blue Tulip Tailoring and Design in Wedgwood, but they have some great reviews on Yelp. Weight loss or weight gain may not mean you need new clothes — I remember my grandfather having pants altered back and forth when he lost or gained weight later in life.
I’m in Stage 1 of a fun furniture reupholstery adventure right now, since I made the mistake of buying chairs covered in bonded leather. So more on that later.
But what else is it possible to get repaired? I dream of a day when we can create a centralized repair depot in North Seattle. Instead of heading for the dump, folks could go there for spare coffeemaker parts, help re-soldering lamps and toys, or to exchange worn out cast-iron pans for nicely re-seasoned ones.
It doesn’t exist yet, but there is usually a big repair fair at the Hands-On Skills Fair in February in Meadowbrook. Unfortunately, like most things, Sustainable NE Seattle‘s usual events are on hold. But in the meantime, put those feelers out to friends, family, BN groups and Yelp if you have something in need of repair. You never know what you might find!