(City of Ames graphic)

Residents of Ames will be able to get electronics, small appliances, computers, bicycles, clothing, or other items that need some work, fixed for free this weekend.

Mike Van Vertloo organized the Ames Repair Café where some 25 volunteers will lend their repair skills to the effort.
“We can teach them how to repair or improve the function of those items,” he says. Van Vertloo says the goal is to cut down on the amount of waste that goes to the landfill by keeping the items working.

“Unfortunately, a lot of times financially that makes the most sense. You know, the newer thing is made more cheaply, or made in a part of the world where labor is super cheap. And it is often cheaper to replace something, and then that is to fix it,” Van Vertloo says. He had the idea for doing this and then came across some others in the community who were also looking to get it started.

Van Vertloo says it’s something that is happening globally. “People around the world have events like this, but this is the first one in Iowa, that I found, I haven’t been able to find anything in Iowa, ” he says. Van Vertloo says some of the fixes may not take long.

“A lot of repairs can be deceptively simple. Once you know kind of what to do,” he says. “And you know, sometimes it comes down to having the right specialized tool. And we are looking at ways to sort of combat that where somebody doesn’t have the right tool, so maybe they’ll go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and pick up a tool for 20 dollars and use it exactly once.” He says they hope to eventually branch out from the repair Cafe idea and maybe create a tool library that lets people borrow the tool they need to make their own repairs.

Van Vertloo says the Repair Cafe will be first-come, first-serve. He says they had a booth at a recent event in Ames and there appears to be a lot of interest. “I suspect, we will have a good turnout, I think it might even get to the point where we end up turning people away, because we don’t have the capacity to do everything within the six hours that we’ve got,” he says. Van Vertloo says they may eventually make this a regular ongoing event.

The Repair Cafe for Ames residents runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday (Oct 8) at the Ames Public Library.