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Used is the new black

Submitted by on 1, January 13, 2009 – 8:30 amNo Comment

The Christian Science Monitor had this nifty piece Monday letting us know that despite the sour economy, there are a few retail categories that are thriving: fix-it and secondhand shops.

Americans who had become accustomed to just throwing things away when they get old are now heading into these Main Street staples to save money, according to the story, which opens at the Watch Hospital on Park Street.

“For the first time in I don’t remember how long, I got some shoes repaired,” Gabe Morgan told the Monitor as he waited in line at the Watch Hospital on a recent Saturday. “I wanted to save some money.”

I checked in with a few other fix-it shops around town, and they, too, said business is up.

“I think it makes sense that when the economy’s a little rough, people are fixing things, or waiting to buy the new machine,” said Jim Obergfell, manager of A-1 Vacuum and Sewing on Park Street.

Obergfell said he’s seeing more people buy the cheaper, used sewing machines and vacuums his store sells, instead of more expensive newer models. And they’re using those sewing machines to tailor the secondhand clothes they’re buying.

Fred Hogenboom, who has owned Fred’s Wrenchouse on Buena Vista Avenue off Webster Street since 1987, said his business typically goes up when the economy drops. “Everyone is holding on to (their cars) a little longer,” he said.

Hogenboom said cars are better now than they once were, so it’s no problem to hang on to many of them for up to 250,000 miles.

“The old adage of getting a new car every other year is gone,” he said.

If you’re looking for a repair place in town, both the West Alameda Business Association and the Park Street Business Association have lists of member businesses. I typed “repair” into the search box in their merchant directories to find those lists.

And here’s a brief list of local secondhand shops, off the top of my head:

All the More to Love (clothing), 2006 Encinal Avenue
Fashion After Passion (maternity/kids), 1205 Lincoln Avenue, Suite B
Goodwill (general), 2319 Lincoln Avenue
Household Treasure Consignment Store (general), 1210 Lincoln Avenue
Lauren’s Closet (clothes/kids), 1420 Park Street
St. Vincent de Paul (general), 2315 Lincoln Avenue
Salvation Army (general), 1918 Park Street
Serendipity/Muse Reuse (home decor/women’s clothing), 1451 Webster Street
Second Home (furniture), 2525 Santa Clara Avenue

There’s always Craigslist too, or Alameda Freecycle.

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