Frequently asked questions about Repair Café Silicon Valley

What exactly is the Repair Café?

Repair Café Silicon Valley is a volunteer-driven organization patterned after the Repair Café movement that started in the Netherlands and now is flourishing worldwide. The aim of the Repair Café movement is to reduce the amount of “stuff” that ends up in the waste stream by helping you fix items that you might otherwise throw away.

What have been your experiences so far?

Hundreds of people have brought broken household items to our events where volunteers worked with them to help restore their items to working order. Visitors and volunteers have worked on bicycles, sewing projects, lamps, jewelry & crafts, small household appliances like toasters, irons and vacuum cleaners, luggage, furniture, small mechanical things like lawnmowers and weed whackers, electrical appliances like clocks, DVD and CD players, and computers and computer-related items. Our fix it success rate runs at about 50% – 70%, depending on the item.

What do we pay for this service?

The events are free, and Repair Café doesn’t charge for repairs. If the purchase of parts is required, and they are available, you will be asked to pay for them at cost. Often Repair Café customers will run to the hardware store to procure specific generic items during Repair Café events. Of course, we encourage donations to help cover other expenses, like food for our volunteers miscellaneous supplies and spare parts that we keep on hand.

Can you tell me in advance if you can fix my broken item?

Every repair is different so it’s hard to say before one of our volunteers takes a look at your broken item. If it’s large and hard to transport feel free to come in with pictures and video of the item and we’ll put our heads together and decide if it makes sense to bring it to the next event.

Where and when is the next Repair Café?

Check out our main page for a list of upcoming events!

Do I have to live in the same city where an event is taking place?

No, Repair Café is open to everyone. However, it doesn’t make good ecological sense for you to drive a long way to repair your broken toaster. So consider accessing one of the following resources if they are closer to you or let us know if you would be interested in starting a Repair Café in your area!

San Mateo County – https://www.facebook.com/FixitClinic/
Santa Cruz – repair@greybears.org or call 831- 479-1055

    Can I make an appointment for a set time?

    Not yet, but we are working on an appointment system. Want to help?

    What if you cannot help me fix my broken item?

    We would love to fix every item that comes to Repair Café, but sometimes we don’t have the parts or the time to complete the repair. Volunteer fixers will often be able to give you advice on next steps, such as where to find parts, or when it makes sense to pursue professional services. When an item has truly reached the end of its useful life we will encourage you to recycle it properly. Check with your community services department to see what options are available for recycling e-waste.

    How can I support the Repair Café movement?
    1. Volunteer – Sign up for our volunteer email list or email us at info@repaircafesv.org.
      Donate – We operate on the energy of our volunteers but some of what we do costs money. Contributions of any size would be greatly appreciated and will help us expand our efforts to fulfill our mission. Donations are accepted at events, or send an email to info@repaircafesv.org.
      Organize a Repair Café in your area – We would love to see more events and will gladly help you get started.