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Posts Tagged ‘thrift store’

Repair Cafés- Where You Can Get a Quick Fix

The Repair Café logo from repaircafe.nl

The Repair Café logo from repaircafe.nl

I can think of a dozen times when I’ve had something break on me that wasn’t worth fixing. Most things nowadays are made to break and not be fixed, just replaced with a new one. This creates so much trash and waste of not just computers and other electronic items, but clothes, household items, hardware, even sporting goods, that could all be fixed and used for a while longer instead of making more landfill. The void left by repair shops that have closed up over the last few years is about to be filled.

Some people in Amsterdam (I guess it’s Dutch Week here at BC) came together and created the idea of Repair Cafés. Here’s a NY Times article about Repair Cafés. And, the original website for the Repair Cafés– it’s in Dutch, so use Google or have Ken translate for you since he could use the practice. There, people have the tools and expertise available to fix all manner of things from clothes, to computers, to bikes, and everything else. The idea might have started in Amsterdam, but it’s spreading throughout the Netherlands and going international.

Since we already have a Maker Group and several other interesting collectives doing DIY stuff here in Reno, why not a Repair Café? I’m sure many people locally would be into it- I know I would be.

Bid on the Unabomber’s Stuff

The Unabomber's Hoodie and Aviator Glasses.

The Unabomber's Hoodie and Aviator Glasses. Now on sale by the US Marshalls. From the US Marshals Public Affairs's Flickr stream.

After years of legal battles, the US Marshals are about to sell off Ted Kaczynski’s (better known as the Unabomber , who is a mathematical genius and professor that dropped out of society, became a neo-luddite, and waged a twenty year, one man war against modern technology with bombs he sent through the mail, killing three people and injuring 20) stuff.  Yes!  The auction starts on May 18, and the money earned from the auction will go to help the Unabomber’s victims, ending on June 2.

You can get the Unabomber’s infamous grey hoodie and aviator glasses, his tennis shoes, hiking boots and even his tool kits, used to make his bombs.  You can get the typewriter that Ted used to write his Manifesto along with the original copies of the Manifesto: one typewritten and one handwritten, and his very well used notebooks. Now’s your chance to get all kinds of normal, everyday stuff that once belonged to one of the most infamous criminals of the last 50 years!

The website for the auction is http://www.gsaauctions.gov/. And, if you want to see what’s up for sale go to the Flickr site for the US Marshals Public Affairs team.

A New Reno Indoor Market – Minus the “Flea”

You’re already going to have to excuse me for getting a little QRA up in here for a moment, however, one QRA would seem to deserve another!

I was forwarded a link through Craigslist about a new Reno indoor “Flea Market,” with approximately 85,000 square feet of space, 300 vendors and room for entertainment and food.  At first, I was was excited, and said, “…holy crap, another place besides the El Rancho location!”

I’m a total flea market/garage sale/thrift store kind of guy.  Love ’em.  My mother introduced me to them at a young age, and while I didn’t appreciate them then, with times being as tough as they are, I sure like them now.

I’ve seen treasures, and I’ve seen trash.   I’ve had days walking around the El Rancho flea market where I’ve been sun-baked, loaded with $2 stuff that’ll probably get used one day, and I’ve crawled through expensive chain thrift stores scoffing at prices for used items that are double than new.  I’ve haggled with toothless old weirdos and sweaty Hispanic peddlers.  It’s all part of the game in this culture, seedy, entertaining, cheap, and an adventure to who KNOWS what you’ll find.  I love it.

I suppose I was a bit offended when I learned this new indoor “flea” market was only open to vendors of new wares.   According to their website, auto parts, perfumes, toys, knives, watches and clocks are among the list of what they hope will be offered.   I’ll explain below why I think this sucks.

The El Rancho Flea Market and Swap Meet is what it is.  Compared to other flea markets, sure it is small, largely Hispanic in nature, but I’ve always had a GREAT time coursing through there.  I’ve found some awesome crap to buy on a good day, and nothing is better than sifting through someone’s stuff on a nice morning.  The idea of an indoor flea market is very cool too, because sometimes the weather in Reno gets a little harrowing to deal with– too hot or too cold sometimes, and that’s just the way it is.   The El Rancho also has “new things” vendors, none of which I am interested in.  Cheap, plastic chrome car garbage, knock-off perfumes, Pakistani knives for $5 that aren’t fit to cut a warm stick of butter, watches made in Singapore that may as well be in a coin vending machine inside a plastic egg, cookware that might have holes in it, battery-operated or inflatable brand-knock-off  toys to shut up the brats… it’s all there, already.   Close to the port of Oakland, this stuff comes here cheap and in abundance.

Not everyone is interested in this stuff, let alone, to sell it.   People who sell this stuff are business people first (which is fine), and usually aren’t the same kind of people that sell the “garage sale type merchandise” (which is also fine).  Garage sale folk, junk peddlers, these are MY kind of people.   They’re grandparents, travelers, dumpster divers, the occasional spring cleaner, you name it.   It makes me wonder why they’re being crossed out of a whole market.  Are the organizers attempting some gentrified, clean market?  One might think so, considering the $670 per 10′ x 10′ square they’re asking, and a two-month lease with month-to-month rent thereafter.  That’s expensive!  These are going to be high-class, long-haulers, or perhaps, so the organizers hope.  The location (probably a warehouse) is still a mystery to me, and that will only further how right or wrong I may be about it…

…what will happen, likely, and here is my QRA, is this won’t do so well.  When the market isn’t a sanitized, bustling local “TJ Maxx,” “Ross,” or “Pier 1,” I predict a large “dollar store” bazaar, one in which you’ll see the same cheap garbage over and over again, by the same people.   Waiting to unload their truckload of whatever it is they bought, to then go buy another truckload.  Initially, they’ll probably do somewhat well, and then as sales dwindle (Reno being the size it is, won’t keep coming back like addicts to “new” trash) and this thing will fail, or they’ll have to re-evaluate their haughty “…we don’t DO garage sale stuff…”  attitude.

There’s a LOT of out-of-work, poor and bored people out there.  I fit in there somewhere.  Flea markets are a WONDERFUL capitalist venture for even the poorest, but willing to do the work.  They’re inventive, genius folk if there ever were any, just trial and error sometimes to see what people will buy.  There’s people that like to buy and resell items they find.  Sometimes it’s obsessive collectors.   It may seem trashy to some, maybe even the indoor “flea” market people, but this is Reno:  we’re small, we’re punchy, we’re full of potential, and we don’t have deep pockets or lots of people.

I’m not trying to be a wet blanket here, but Reno attracts this “declarative” attitude far too often.  “We’re THIS… not THIS.”   Limiting itself before it even gets out of the gate.  Happens all the time–I’m even sort-of doing it now.  Downtown is also evident of this fact.  People and populace determine what Reno is or is not, not marketers or planners.  That’s why Reno doesn’t always do so hot to people’s grand dreams.  Reno could capitalize on flexibility, if it embraced some of it!

I wish the indoor “flea” market people well and lots of luck:  we’ll see who is right in the end.  I’d much rather it be them than me!


QRA- In a Thrift Store, yo!

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time in thrift stores. Quickly scanning the aisles for janky old keyboards, or rad Janus films in the bargain bins. To the layman, you spend an inordinate amount of time sneering at garbage with a bunch of other jerks. This would be fine and dandy if it weren’t for the aforementioned ‘other jerks’. Case in point being that most of them have little to no respect for unhindered paths, or aisles. Much to the chagrin of their fellow shoppers, they will block whole aisles by extending their bodies, shopping carts and children. In such a manner that enemy soldiers could take cover behind their brood.

This is the tale of one such occasion.

It was shortly after 2010, in the future world of 2011. I think it was Tuesday. I was walking through the Goodwill on Oddie, in Sparks [booo-hisss].

As I approached one such obstruction (a mother with a cart and her teen son) I noticed the son placing an unwanted shirt on a lingerie rack (snicker).
I stopped to stare at the discarded Elway jersey with a slight but noticeable grimace of disdain. Having made my point, I went to pass the 5′ 2″-110lb kid, who instead of moving slightly to be considerate, decided instead to engage me in a staring match that included a quick, jerky motion from his arms and upper-torso.  The kind of motion that is referred to as “fronting” in middle schools; thus intimidating other insecure males. So, I stopped and continued to stare at him until he broke eye contact and walked away. Which all-in-all was a good thing, being as I’m not usually in the mood to be punked-out by a twelve year old with a pretty blue earring. When the path to the electronics department is sealed off, I tend to develop super-prison-laser-eyes(tm). They worked in this situation, but the next victim of Skyler’s “fronting” might just turn his neck into a sprinkler.

Now this QRA may seem minor.

“Oh, they were just blocking an aisle. Go around them.”

There was no ‘around them,’ two people and a shopping cart managed to fill the aisle, and set up a pretty good check point. Being as there are two main arteries in the store, it could be argued that they were creating a fire hazard. I didn’t have any matches.