Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Washington County's Repair Fair comes to Forest Grove for the first time at the Forest Grove Public Library on Nov. 3.

COURTESY PHOTO: REPAIR FAIR - Repair Fair began in Washington County with the goal to bring opportunities for people to learn how to fix common household items instead of spending money to replace them. Have a beloved broken appliance that needs some help? How about a shirt missing a button that can't be parted with?

Repair Fair is here to help and is coming to Forest Grove for the first time on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Forest Grove City Library, allowing people 18 and up to bring an item for free.

The group brings together anyone with a passion for DIY who needs a helping hand and volunteers who have a knack for repair.

"Repair cafes," also known as "fix-it clinics," have skilled volunteers be available to fix items and walk a participant through the process as a learning opportunity.

The idea was sparked in the Netherlands in 2009, but it's gone global as cities around the world have created their own spaces for fix-it-focused get-togethers.

Repair Fair was created in 2015 by its coordinator, Heather Robinson. Robinson participated in Repair PDX, based in Portland, and felt compelled to start her own in Washington County.

COURTESY PHOTO: REPAIR FAIR - The fix-it clinic has about 15 volunteers all skilled in different areas like mending. "I wanted to get a group together that know things and help people save cash," Robinson said.

The first Repair Fair kicked off at Beaverton Public Library and is now held monthly, traveling to communities in Tualatin, Sherwood, Beaverton and the Cedar Mill area.

Robinson turned to farmers' markets to recruit people to become "fixers," or the volunteers who repair the items.

"They just are people you would call if something is broken," she said.

Repair Fair's volunteer base is more than 100, but about 15 people are frequent each month.

New volunteers can learn from veteran volunteers and find what skills they are best at, Robinson said.

"Our volunteers are truly some of the best people I know," Robinson said. "They range from retired engineers or folks who have their own fix-it jobs on the side and work for themselves. We have a few who sew and mend for a living, or people in their 20s and up to retirement age."

Robinson said Repair Fair is always looking for more fixers, especially in towns the group is just beginning to make stops in.

"I would love to encourage people in Forest Grove to join the volunteer base," she said.

Robinson said she witnesses volunteers learning skills from each other and taking the time and initiative to collaborate.

"Sometimes they'll even borrow each other's tools or partner up with each other to help one another," she said.

The message to fix rather than throw away is personal to Robinson, who works in waste prevention and recycling at her day job.

"Back in the day, you would see (a) television repairman or shops to bring your appliances," Robinson said. "Products are just more and more complex to fix, things don't last for quite as long and we are throwing away a ton of stuff. People are throwing away stuff they don't need to because they don't know how to fix it or have trouble to find someone to fix it."

COURTESY PHOTO: REPAIR FAIR - In October 2018, Repair Fair hit more than 1,000 items repaired since it began in 2015. Anything from clothing, toys, textiles, lamps, radios, small house appliances, vacuums, small furniture and other electronics can be brought to Repair Fair.

Dangerous items like chainsaws or gas-powered items are not allowed, Robinson said.

"We encourage people to stick around and ask questions, as well as learn about your item," she said.

Robinson said she is excited to see Repair Fair make its move out to Forest Grove and sees it being a success.

"Forest Grove seems likes a place where people build community," she said "I think Repair Fair would be a perfect fit because you get to meet your neighbors, keep things out of the landfill and meet new people while learning."

People can join Repair Fair as an attendee by visiting its website, and submitting a form stating what item they plan to bring. To join Repair Fair as a volunteer, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fill out a form on the website.

By Janae Easlon
Features Editor
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
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