Experts by Experience: Profiles of entrepreneurs at different stages on their journeys, identifying and sharing some universal truths along the way.
Saturday 7 December is Small Business Saturday – a new campaign to celebrate and support small businesses across the UK, and Royston Freecycle Group in north Herts has compiled a ‘Royston Repairers’ business listing to encourage local spending on mending.
One repairer included in the list is Royston Domestic Appliances, started by Tony Squires in 1977 after leaving the army, with son Paul joining his father in January 1984. The business was built on repairs and spares but added sales a decade ago to offer a more complete service. Paul regrets the forced move away from repairs:
“We repair wherever we can but, unfortunately, a lot of new products now have built-in obsolescence. A few years ago you could put in a new set of washing machine bearings and it would be good for a further 3 – 4 years. Now the drums are sealed we have to dispose of the whole thing when nothing is wrong apart from the noise.”
After 35 years, Royston Domestic Appliances are positive about the future. Regular customers recommend them to their children and even use them when they’ve moved away from Royston. With free delivery, installation and environmental disposal of old products they’re happy to compete with bigger suppliers.
Are people wanting repairs typically men or women? Paul chuckles: “Women tend to go for repairs because they like the familiarity of their existing machines. The men have a go at fixing machines and, when they can’t, they suggest a replacement!”
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Repairers like Paul and Tony Squires are keen to keep items in use, and the Royston Freecycle Group – with a mission to keep stuff out of landfill – will be linking again with Royston Domestic Appliances and other repair businesses in 2014.
The Freecycle Group is celebrating its 10th anniversary year by launching the Royston Repair Cafe. In early 2014, they’ll be inviting local people to bring broken items (toys, bikes, small pieces of furniture, clothes, electrical equipment, including IT stuff) to the free event for assessment. If the item can be repaired there and then, the person bringing it will be shown how to mend it. If it needs more attention (the Repair Cafe is a clinic, not a hospital…) people will be directed to local repairers like Paul and Tony Squires.
The Royston Repairers list is published 7 December at www.facebook.com/RoystonRepairCafe where you can also keep up to date as the Royston Repair Cafe plans develop.