Repaired Things


I fixed my shoe.
October 2, 2012, 4:54 pm
Filed under: fabric, rubber | Tags: , ,

Hey Anne, do you still have your blog about repairs?  I fixed my shoe.

Hey Allan! Thank you for the photo! I will post it. What happened to your shoe? I have kept Repaired Things going, but just barely.

It’s what happens will all my shoes, the inside of the back of the heel came undone.  And all the shops were like, “Oh, we can’t fix that.  You have to stop kicking your shoes off.”  Scolding me!  So there was this flap of shoe hanging around the inside, so I sewed that very crude patch on.

There are plenty of people in India who will fix things like that. Our cobblers are just lazy.

And it’s a cost of labor vs. cost of manufactured goods thing.  I don’t exactly understand it.  The relative cost of a repair, vs. the cost of a new item, is higher in rich countries than in poor countries.  It’s because labor costs are higher in rich countries than in poor countries, but since the shoes (everywhere) are made in the poor countries, the new shoes end up being relatively cheap vs. the repairs, because the repairs have to be done by a high-wage-earning person in the rich country.
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Unless there were some way to outsource/globalize the repairs.  Send a container-load of damaged shoes to India, have them fixed at the local rate, and then ship them back.  Just need to convince people in North America and Europe to wait three months for their shoes to get repaired, but for only $1.
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This is true, but if you were willing to pay a fair 1st world rate for someone to sew the back of your shoe back together, then why wouldn’t they do it? Because they don’t want to – not because they can’t. Even in India people told me that my sandals weren’t worth the time to repair, but they did it anyway because I was willing to pay.
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Besides, it is worth it in the long run. We are just externalizing the costs of producing cheap goods; the costs are there in environmental harm and human rights abuses; we just don’t see them. So if I want to not hurt anyone with the things I wear, it might be cheaper to pay $20 for my things to be repaired rather than buy expensive new free trade / organic shoes.
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Maybe if the economy stays crappy more people will go into the sneaker repair business.  At least the high prices are forcing people buy smaller cars.  It’s a start.
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