So, we have now been running for over 12 months - the October 19 event was our first birthday event. So what has happened since I first decided to set up Boothstown Repair Cafe?
I don't worry as much the day before the event. I have a routine and know where everything is ready to be loaded into the car. All the volunteers are more experienced and either know what to expect or can handle the unexpected. Due to a planning issue, Janet & I weren't available for the birthday event so the other volunteers rallied round and did everything from set up through to clearing away.
We have had extremely busy events and quiet events. Sometimes it's sewing that is in demand, and other times it's electrical repairs so we never know what will happen on the day. I get contacted through Facebook, twitter, phone calls by potential customers with things to repair and they sound interested but don't always turn up so you cannot gauge how many visitors you will get beforehand. We don't get many bike repairs at Boothstown for some reason.
Looking back at the registration forms we have repair around 66% of items that come in and have advised on some of the others. Of the items we advise on, some people go away and carry out the repair themselves while other order spare parts and come back the following month for us to complete the repair. Unfortunately some items are just not repairable.
Donations have been sufficient to cover our costs and pay the Public Liability insurance for the next year. Cafe donations have been good and people like the cake - one of the repairers tells me we have the best cakes of all the Manchester Repair Cafes. If you have the facilities for refreshments then it's definitely worth the effort. If you can get the cakes donated then all the better.
Most months I add to the spares especially when we have had a repair in that we've had to send out for parts. I am debating getting the nylon gears for G-tech hoovers - we've had 2 of those and the first one I dismantled to find out what the noise was. I then re-assembled it and told the customer to order the part and come back. The following month I dismantled it, swapped the gear and re-assembled it. There are so many screws and parts that this is a significant job - longer than the 15-20 minutes we would normally spend on a repair.
Batteries - AA, AAA, PP3
Fuses - mains fuses as well as a box of glass fuses
Cables - 2 & 3 core mains cables, bell wire, inline switches for table lamps
Plugs - 3 pin plugs, 2pin cable joints for the inevitable cut cables on hedge trimmers and lawnmowers
I take a monitor & indoor TV aerial every month because we have needed them in the past. Obviously since I started to take them along, we have never needed them again but the time I don’t take them they will be required.
One month we got a clown in for repair but we weren't sure what it was supposed to do. It had a battery pack in the back but replacing the batteries didn't help so it came home with me. After some googling I found a TV advert for it. If you squeeze his hand he should laugh, he originally came with a saxophone and when you put it to his lips he played a tune and the third thing was a water reservoir in his pocket that squirted water through a flower. The reservoir was missing so we couldn't fix that although his felt jacket & flower were repaired. I found putting a strong magnet near his mouth he would play a tune and I did manage to get the air valve in his hand to work once but it wasn't reliable. In the end, we replaced the air valve with a microswitch and got it to work reliably. The downside was that this clown was in my office for 2 months as he wasn't collected
More and more people are interested in the Repair Cafe movement - not always for cheap repairs but for environmental reasons. We also get visitors who come along for the social side and just have a drink and cake. I think the Repair Shop TV program helps to raise the profile but the downside is that some people think the Repair Cafe works like the TV shop where they drop something off and come back for it the following month. This seems to be becoming more prevalent and it's something we need to clamp down on. The Manchester Repair Cafes are trying to get a directory of local repairers for people who want that sort of service and also for jobs that are too big for us to take on at the repair cafe.