• Repair Cafe USA

Is "Virtual Repair" a thing?

From the early days of the pandemic, it was clear there would be no regular in-person repair events of any kind for a while. The challenge was to find ways to do "virtual repair."

Peter Mui, founder of Fixit Clinics, started experimenting, choosing zoom as his platform. The idea was to gather an international "gallery" of fixers who would collaborate on repairing items presented to them by folks from around the globe. The "repair seekers" register their items in advance and provide as much info as they can--understanding that they are the ones who will do the hands-on repair, using tools they have on-hand, and following the advice they receive from their virtual repair coaches.

9 months into Covid, these virtual repair events have gotten better and better. They are truly global in scope! Virtual Fixit Clinics have originated in Sweden, London, Berkeley, Boulder and Ontario. Zoom break-out rooms allow an effective match between fixers and broken things from as far away as India and Argentina. Most of all, it is fascinating--and quite entertaining--to see the interaction among people in this global repair community.

Case in point: On Saturday November 14, the Virtual Fixit Clinic originated from Brampton, Ontario. Sean De Freitas showed us his IKEA "Vimel" sofa--with one corner all pulled apart. John Wackman in the Hudson Valley joined Jessika in Lund, Sweden and Rotimi Aluko, a professor at the University of Manitoba to look at repair options.

What happened--and how it all turned out--is best reported in Sean's emails:

When I heard about the Fixit clinic on "Meetups" and contacted Peter, I was hoping that a solution could be found. I had made attempts, unsuccessfully, to get spare pairs from IKEA. I attempted to find solutions online, unsuccessfully.

The fix which Jessika and John provided--and the sketch that Rotimi emailed--made the difference. I went out and picked up some metal tape. The hardware store didn't have Sugru, but they had a construction adhesive--it was pliable and did a good job. Using the method you suggested, my daughter and I repaired the sofa successfully. Yay! We spent Sunday afternoon binge watching The Mandalorian, eating nachos and relaxing.

Thanks again for your help and support, the sofa had been broken for months, probably since Christmas, so seeing it fixed and all joined together made a difference in my world.

There you have it: a virtual repair success! The break-out rooms are one key--but even more important I think is the camaraderie created by Peter and the other event hosts, and the good spirits enjoyed by everyone. I look forward to future gatherings!