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Meet 'The Fixers'!

The Fixers Collective strives to limit waste by repairing broken items. 

The program is at the Reuse MegaCenter (Source: Maddie Miele/Ithaca Week).

How did the Fixers Collective start?

These self-described “fix-it-yourself enthusiasts” have repaired anything from an antique floor lamp to a kitchen mixer.  

The Fixers Collective is a group of Ithaca community members who share a common interest in repairing household appliances. They meet every Saturday from 3-5 p.m. at the Reuse MegaCenter in Ithaca, NY.  

In 2012, the idea was proposed by the Reuse Center. They started the program by sending out a survey to seek interest. The results showed ample interest which led to about 30 people at the initial meeting. 

Bruce Johnson, one of the Fixers Collective founders, said they used to meet at the Elmira Road location. During the COVID-19 shutdown, the Reuse MegaCenter reorganized the store. This gave the Fixers the opportunity to move to the Triphammer location, which offered more space.

Bruce Johnson (Source: Maddie Miele/Ithaca Week).

According to Johnson, at the beginning of the program, not many people attended. Now, it is constantly growing with new people coming in asking for assistance. Since the program began, Johnson said they have had over 2,000 people, including the regular members, attend.

The Fixers Collective initiative

“The primary idea is to be a resource where people can share their skills and learn from each other,” Johnson said. “And help you if you don’t want to throw away your grandmother’s lamp or toaster.”

Johnson explained the concept is to work together to repair various items. He said the group has around six people with a wide range of skills who enjoy teaching others. 

This has contributed to the overall 70% success rate the Fixers Collective has in fixing.

Two Fixers repairing a wooden chair’s seat cushion (Source: Maddie Miele/Ithaca Week).

A unique project from a Fixer

John Reed, a Fixers Collective member, joined the program about five years ago after he retired. 

“I wanted to give some of my services back to the community,” Reed said. “I spent my life doing troubleshooting and computer repair and fixing things … so that’s really what I enjoy doing.”

Reed shared how he got started on his current project. The Tompkins County Public Library has a “Makerspace” that he regularly attends. There, he learned about a broken 3-D printer the library was throwing out. However, Reed had the idea of bringing it to the Fixers. The library decided to donate it to the Fixers Collective.

Reed (wearing the hat) next to the, now fixed, 3-D printer (Source: Maddie Miele/Ithaca Week).

Reed explained it took the Fixers about a month for the printer to function. They spent a week alone taking it apart and then putting it back together. 

With the 3-D printer functioning, the Fixers are putting it to use. Roger Christian, a fellow Fixer, is working on a set of wooden chests and drawers which needed a few new knobs. Reed replicated new knobs by using the printer.

Top: Reed’s drawing of the knob dimensions (Source: Bruce Johnson); Bottom: New and original knobs on the wooden drawer (Source: Maddie Miele/Ithaca Week).

Now that the 3-D printer is fixed, it will stay with the Fixers Collective and be waiting for the next project. 

Reed explained how his favorite part about the Fixers Collective is the people. 

“It’s not the building, it’s the people that are in it doing the work,” Reed said. “And the customers that come in … and share their history of this precious item they’re bringing to us to try to restore it back to life.” 

Johnson values the overall effort coming from the Fixers Collective.

“There’s some kind of satisfaction and joy at least trying to save something from the landfill,” Johnson said. “Even if we can’t fix something, we’re happy we at least tried.”


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