Repair Cafés are not one-day wonders: more and more Repair Cafés are celebrating their tenth anniversary. In the Dutch city of Eindhoven, their anniversary was on March 3.
Fons Weijts started the Repair Café in his neighbourhood of Woensel in March 2013. The former Philips employee and technology teacher discovered his hometown did not have a Repair Café yet. That needed to be corrected, Fons thought. So, he called the office of the Repair Café Foundation in Amsterdam and announced that he would set one up himself. Repair Café creator Martine Postma recalls the incident in her book “Weggooien? Mooi niet!” (“Toss it? No way!”) published in March 2015 to mark the foundation’s fifth anniversary.
Meanwhile, Eindhoven has eight Repair Cafés, which means residents can always go for a repair at short notice and in their neighbourhood. For example, in the elderly club Andromeda, home of Repair Café Eindhoven-Woensel, visitors are welcome every Friday afternoon with broken items.
Volunteers have faithfully come every week for ten years
What does Fons remember most from ten years of Repair Café Eindhoven-Woensel? He immediately knows the answer: “The intrinsic motivation of the volunteers. They have been coming here faithfully every week for ten years. Most of our team has been involved in this Repair Café from the very start. I’m proud of that.”
Fons, therefore, tries hard to make everyone feel comfortable. “I think it’s important to give everyone attention, pay them a compliment now and then…” He also regularly organises something fun for the volunteers. “And I try to make sure we get publicity. An article in the newspaper is always nice; it brings in new visitors, and for the volunteers it’s a token of recognition to be in the newspaper.”
A large picture of the 12-member Repair Café team has hung in club Andromeda in Eindhoven since March 3
Repair skills of repairers have greatly improved in ten years
Has Fons seen any changes in the past decade in terms of repairability of products? “In product design, unfortunately, I haven’t seen any improvements,” he says. “In our team, I do see development. We now have a lot of experience repairing various objects, and I dare say: we can open anything. We can also trace back a lot in the RepairMonitor, where Repair Cafés worldwide keep track of their repair data.”
How does Fons see the future of Repair Café Eindhoven-Woensel? “That one is uncertain; we hardly see any young people here. But for now, our team isn’t going anywhere!”
More Repair Cafés have existed for ten years
In recent years, more Repair Cafés in the Netherlands have celebrated their tenth anniversary, such as the Repair Cafés in Delft, Houten, Groningen, Utrecht, Bilthoven and dozens of other places. Abroad, too, several Repair Cafés have been around for that long, such as Repair Café Klein-Brabant in Belgium, Cologne and Celle in Germany, and Palo Alto in the United States.