I splurged. I bought a lamp from the 1950s from my favorite neighborhood antique shop. It’s round silver orb, dangling from the end of a long, curved stand. To me, it’s perfect- but it needed rewiring. This brought me to Brian’s shop, appropriately called the Lamp Repair Shop.
It’s exactly how you might picture it. There are lamps everywhere. Old and new, broken and repaired, simple and ornate. Other than a few antiques for sale, it’s mostly lamps, lighting fixtures and the tools to fix them. Over 200 lamps are waiting to be repaired. He has already fixed thousands of lamps this year.
Years ago, a local retired chef bought a chair. He never took it home, and comes in daily to chat and read the newspaper to Brian as he works. And when I first arrived, the man was in his chair, Brian was at his workbench, and a few other men were involved in a boisterous debate.
In the age of Walmart, places like the Lamp Repair Shop are rare, as is its philosophy of reuse, conservation, and community. It’s comforting to know that it’s there and that some things really can be fixed.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Enlightenment. I want everybody to be enlightened and educated.
TELL ME ABOUT A MOMENT OF CLARITY IN YOUR LIFE.
There hasn’t been. My life has always been clear.
TELL ME ABOUT A MOMENT THAT CHANGED YOU.
The death of my parents. You realize it’s time to slow down (with) work and spend more time with my own family. Because they never did.
HOW DID YOU END UP REPAIRING LAMPS?
When I was working with a business that kept throwing things away. They’d say it couldn’t be repaired and throw it away. And I didn’t like that. It was all about recycling. And upcycling, which I do a lot of- which is taking stuff that has already been thrown away and turning it into something else.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO REPAIR OR RECYCLE?
Well, obviously, I would have a long answer. We are killing ourselves by importing and using up the natural resources to continue to buy cheap things that are only going to last for a very, very short time. That’s the short answer.
HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU BEEN ELECTROCUTED?
None! I’m still here. Shocked? I have been shocked countless times. And after a while it doesn’t hurt. It’s like a bee sting.
DO PEOPLE BRING IN STORIES WITH THEIR LAMPS?
Everybody has a story. And the story boils down to, they don’t want to wait for me to fix it. They want to put it in front of everybody else’s. But yes, there are a lot of stories. But mostly, I would say the majority of the story is that they were wedding gifts. And so sentimentally, they are priceless, and that’s why they don’t want to leave them with me. A big percentage are family heirlooms, but there are still some in that generation from when people received lamps as a wedding present. Nobody does that anymore. As the early baby boomers pass on, we’ll see that these stories change. And ultimately, we’ll see that there is no sentimental story at all for these. It’s all Wal Mart and Target. How can that be sentimental?