Fixing it For Free

church-sponsored Repair Café brings broken stuff back to life

Briana Bryant, photos by Timothy Mather

SEW HAPPY TO HELP. The monthly Repair Café at Blind Munchies Coffeehouse in Menomonie offers free help fixing small appliances, sharpening knives, and mending garments. The event is sponsored by the Jesus Fellowship of Believers, a local church.
SEW HAPPY TO HELP. The monthly Repair Café at Blind Munchies Coffeehouse in Menomonie offers free help fixing small appliances, sharpening knives, and mending garments. The event is sponsored by the Jesus Fellowship of Believers, a local church.

You know that thing that’s sitting in the back of your closet, broken and alone, that you desperately want to use but can’t figure out how to fix? Well, fret no more: The Repair Café that has recently sprung up in Menomonie. Here’s the concept: you bring in your broken stuff to Repair Café, and leave with fixed stuff. It’s happening at the Jesus Fellowship of Believers, a nondenominational church in Menomonie. And guess what else? It’s completely free. Yep, no gimmicks, just free service. You can even enjoy free coffee and cookies while you’re waiting to get your stuff fixed.

The Repair Café, which debuted Jan. 6, is held from 2 to 4pm on the first Sunday of each month. As the event is still in its early stages, the dates and frequency may change in the future. The Repair Café is held at the Blind Munchies Coffeehouse, 621 Wilson Ave., which is in the church building for Jesus Fellowship. So far, they’ve repaired things like vacuum cleaners, espresso makers, food processors, lamps, ax handles, as well as hemmed clothes and sharpened quite a few knives.

According to Brian Harnish, an elder at Jesus Fellowship, several church members realized their church had members with a diverse group of talents and thought there could be a way to use those talents for the community. The Repair Café is run by Gnosko Ministries, which is a couples ministry for middle-aged couples in the church. Gnosko Ministries also offers other outreach events in the community as well, such as giving away free hot dogs and chips in the park. They’ve also done a free car wash, which elicited many strange reactions from people, according to Harnish, who added, “We had a blast doing it.”

Not only will they fix things for you if you come by at the Repair Café; they’ll also teach you the building blocks for fixing them yourself in the future, based on the “teach a man to fish, and you’ll feed him for a lifetime” principle. If you happen to bring in something that is beyond the realm of what the church members know how to fix, they will still help you. They have business cards for several area businesses to help connect you with someone with expertise in the necessary area. Harnish says this helps the church gain respect within the community because business owners appreciate being recommended, and customers leave with real solutions to their practical problems.

You might be thinking: All right, where’s the hitch? What do I have to do to get free stuff? Well, it’s not too good to be true. The folks at Jesus Fellowship really are just doing this because they’re trying to help people and want to get to know people in the community better. Harnish describes their church as being a fairly active one and says they do a lot of Bible-based ministry. Further, he says, “We do what we can to serve the community and serve the Lord.”

One customer with rave reviews for the Repair Café is Sussy Lepro, who brought in a lamp to be fixed. She came in thinking that the lamp needed repairs, after trying a couple of bulbs with no success. It turns out that the bulbs she was using were just faulty. “They didn’t even laugh at me,” Lepro says, “even though I felt like an idiot, and that just shows their heart.” She says the coffee and the atmosphere in general were very welcoming, and the people were “super friendly.” Lepro says she would definitely go back again, largely because of the group’s willingness to fix just about anything.

So why not take that forlorn half-broken – or whole-broken – object from your closet and bring it in to the Repair Café? You really can’t lose; it’s free.

Press and hold the up/down arrows to scroll.