As a child in the 1980's, I was always fascinated with anything that ran on electricity. Whether it was a flashlight, a calculator, or a tape recorder, I was always taking things apart to see how they worked, and trying to repair them. I remember, when I was about 4, spending a couple of hours trying to "repair" a disposable flashlight that was getting dim. My parents wouldn't let me tinker with the family TV; I'm not sure whether it was safety concerns, or the fact that we couldn't afford to replace the 19" black-and-white set. I'd have to wait until I was older to tinker with those..... So not surprisingly, as I got older, I knew I'd want to go into this line of work someday, repairing consumer electronics. At 19 I began rounding up broken TV sets, and then VCRs and other appliances. I began repairing things for customers before I had gained adequate experience, but it was just as well; because by the time I became properly experienced, there would be almost no demand for my skills. For a while, business wasn't too bad. I kept fairly busy, with customers coming and going on an almost daily business. Not bad considering this was just a small shop, run in a small building next to my house. At it's peak, I took in about $6k in one year - that may not seem like much, but it kept bills paid and gave me some extra spending money (I had little overhead so almost everything was clear profit). But in the last 2 years or so, things have gone downhill at an alarming rate of speed. At first, sales of used electronics started to dwindle. Then more and more customers were turning down repair estimates, saying "I'll just buy a new one". So where do things stand now? Earlier this year, the local corner store changed hands, and I set up an agreement with the owner to let me sell electronics from a corner of his store (the only store in the community). With deals like 25" stereo TVs for $79.99, you'd think they'd sell fast wouldn't you? Wrong. In the nearly two months I've had my display set up, not a single television set has sold. A few other misc items did sell, netting me a grand total of just over $100. In short, the results of this venture have been very disappointing indeed. If the store owner decides to give me the shaft to make way for something more profitable, I won't blame him at all. And while sales have fallen through, it seems repairs have taken a drastic drop as well. Fewer and fewer items are coming into my shop for repairs, and those that do are often left there when the owner decides to buy a new unit. Either that, or replacement parts are no longer available - even for sets less than 6 years old. I think the best indication of the industries decline, would be the things I see in the trash each spring. This spring I rounded up what seemed like a bounty, hoping it would be stuff I could resell. The haul was unbelievable. More stuff than I could list here. And the vast majority of the items were untampered with - it appeared that the owners hadn't even bothered to get an estimate of repairs, they just threw them in the trash and bought new ones. Another indication would be the activity of this very newsgroup. In the years I've been posting here, I've noticed a big drop in activity. I'm guessing it's no coincidence. At present, I have two buildings full of hundreds of appliances. Dozens of nice, remote color TV's, dozens of nice VCRs, mini-systems, audio equipment, and so forth. Ten years ago this stuff would have been worth a fortune - now it appears that most of it will end up as landfill. Nobody wants it anymore. Everyone just wants to buy something new, even if it's just a piece of junk. Nobody appreciates quality anymore. It seems that the world is rapidly going to hell in a handbasket. So what do I do now? Part of me just wants to trash the whole works of it, and try to find some other line of work. But it breaks my heart to throw out so many nice appliances, which could be easily repaired and provide years of useful service. But what's the point in keeping it all? I can't sell it. I probably couldn't even give most of it away. TV's and VCR's could be stripped for aluminum and copper, though most sets yield less than $1 worth of such metals. I could just throw it out, but like I say, I hate to do that. But it appears that I'll have to do something, and soon. There's no point in carrying on this charade any longer - the business is dead and it's time to bury it. I also have to wonder what's going to happen within 10 or 20 years, when the landfills are full, and the economy perhaps in turmoil. People may once again turn to the electronic tech, looking for repairs of their sets or to buy something used. But by then, such businesses will all be long-gone. People will be left with nothing, and those of us who tried to warn them today will just say "I told you so". I look forward to your input on this subject; I'm guessing the vast majority of you guys are going through the same thing.
17 years ago