Senior Reporter Julie Power visited The Bower’s Electrical Repair Shop in Summer Hill and spoke with our lead repairer Othy Willis and customers. Here’s an extract from the full story about her visit:

Belinda Fraser had been everywhere, looking for someone to fix a sleek, black, glass-fronted, one-year old bar fridge that stopped working – you guessed it – the day after the warranty expired. She’d been told it was too difficult or expensive to fix. “They say, ‘You can get a new one’,” Fraser said. “I’m the one who has still got my Kenwood food processor that I got as a wedding present because it still works, and my mother-in-law’s Sunbeam Mixmaster.”

She was typical of customers visiting the Bower who were frustrated with the effort required to repair rather than replace an appliance. Another customer, Kristina Jaworski, said she had grown up in the era when everything from watches to saucepans was expected to last with some repairs. She brought along a 50- to 60-year-old electric frying pan that belonged to her mother. It was working again in minutes thanks to “miracle worker” Willis.

As the Bower’s lead electrical repair technician, Willis admitted defeat on a few things. Theore had wanted to get Big Bird repaired so it could move more freely to entertain a grandchild. But the toy was too precious to tinker with. Theore said: “Repair is a dying sort of thing, and people are happy to pay good money to get things [fixed] that are of a more sentimental value than dollars and cents. You don’t let memories go by getting rid of items.”

Willis has tried to fix most things. “Bread makers. Microwaves. Just everything you can imagine … A lot of coffee machines, they’re really hard … Lots of speakers. I don’t profess to know about everything. You just pull it apart and slowly, carefully understand it, rather than being, like, an expert of everything.”

In response to demand, the Bower has added weekly workshops, including furniture and bike repair sessions. It is among the oldest of 120 Australian repair cafes that have sprung up to fix rather than toss.

Read the full story here or download a pdf copy.

We acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation who are the traditional custodians of this land and pay respect to Elders past, present and future and extend that respect to other Aboriginal people.