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“Why do people want to repair their product at the Repair Café?” This is the main research question that Lianne Pit answered in her master’s thesis ‘The untold stories of the Repair Café‘, with which she recently graduated from Wageningen University (the Netherlands).

To answer this question Lianne visited Repair Café Wageningen several times. She followed ten unique products that entered the Repair Café, such as a sweater, a DVD player and a shredder. For the research she conducted interviews with the owners of the products. These people explained to her why they wanted to repair their product, why they didn’t do this by themselves, why they didn’t ask friends, relatives or professional repairers to do it and how they found out about Repair Café.

Great appreciation for repairers
Lianne found that a lot of people visit the Repair Café because products can easily be examined there, to find out whether they can be repaired or not. People also visit a Repair Café because this is attractive from a financial point of view: at the Repair Café, visitors are invited to donate some money for the repair, but this is not compulsory.

Another reason why people visit the Repair Café is because of the volunteer repair experts. All the product owners praised the repairers for their repair knowledge, skills, materials, and equipment to repair (almost) any product a visitor may bring. People also mentioned the opportunity to learn how to repair your product by yourself as a reason to come to the Repair Café. After visiting the Repair Café people don’t see their product as a single item anymore. Instead, they see it as a collection of parts that are often easy to repair.

Changing the throw-away society
In her thesis Lianne concludes that Repair Cafés can indeed change the throw-away society: all the people she interviewed, said that they will definitely visit the Repair Café again when in the near future something breaks. As one of the product owners put it: “I will surely tell others about my experience at the Repair Café and I will definitely visit the Repair Café again if a product is in need to be repaired!”

Curious about the research? Download the master’s thesis of Lianne Pit (in English).

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