Stepping into Gear Fix, formally known as Repeat Performance Sports, one might be fooled into thinking the outfit is just an outdoor consignment store. Not so. Bringing a six-year dream to fruition, in the past several months, owner Joshua Sims has overhauled the operation to fulfill a market need for gear repair, a viable business that fully manifests the phrase “Rethink Waste”. The shop, still a “work in progress” Sims cautions, now includes ski, bike, sewing, and sole repair services. (They’ll be providing sewing repairs and bike tunes at the repair cafe – hit them up at the shop for your other repair needs!)
Acquiring Repeat Performance Sports in 2006 after a brief stint as an employee, Sims was driven to operate a business in service to the community. He immediately began consulting the Environmental Center and the Rethink Waste Project. The Repair Cafe is important to Sims because he wants to see a trend where “It’s cool to get things fixed.” He adds, “Fixing stuff starts at the time of purchase, asking the question ‘is this repairable?’”. Sims spread this philosophy at last November’s Repair Cafe. When items couldn’t be fixed he took the time to show people why, so they could make more informed decisions during their future purchases (translation: buy repairable goods!)
Perhaps the most impressive of Sims recent expansions is the cobblers workshop located in the loft space above the consignment floor. Perusing the inventory of worn shoes and intricate machinery of the shop, Sims explains the lost art of shoe repair. The days of apprenticeship long past, he has invested in several local gear enthusiasts paying them to learn to be cobblers. He is on track to be the only high volume climbing shoe re-soler in Oregon, although able to handle nearly all shoe repairs. First the footwear is fitted with a last, a dense wood or plastic surrogate foot which maintains the shape of the shoe. Then the grinder is used to wear down the old sole so the new sole can be fashioned, all the while collecting every scrap and making sure they are properly recycled.
Sims sees the entire operation as a present day trading post and it seems a fitting analogy especially because the recent expansions were customer driven. I have personally consigned many goods at Gear Fix for which the proceeds funded installation and parts for cycling re-refurbishments and my first pair of chamois bike shorts. Like many of us in Bend, I work in the service industry and cannot afford new goods for my outdoor hobbies even if I wanted to buy them new. I may have never obtained padded biking shorts if it wasn’t for Sims vision. How many of us can express a similar experience? All built on what would have been discarded goods.
Interview and photo by Krystal Collins