On Black Friday, repair instead of buy, say Patagonia and iFixit

Some 140 million people plan to shop on Thanksgiving and Black Friday all the way through next weekend, but outdoor apparel company Patagonia Inc. said it hopes the crowds will refrain from buying all-new items.

Instead, the Ventura-based retailer wants Americans to embrace repairs.

Patagonia has spent the past few Black Fridays issuing statements and running advertisements urging consumers to be more conscious of the environmental footprint of their purchases. This year, it’s asking shoppers to extend the lives of ripped, broken and otherwise damaged goods by fixing them up. 

“There’s an environmental cost to anything that’s made, even if it’s made environmentally responsibly,” said Vincent Stanley, who helps run marketing at Patagonia.

The company paired with iFixit, a website that features a range of free repair manuals and is best known for its electronics advice. But now, San Luis Obispo-based iFixit has dozens of tutorials on how to replace a wheel on Patagonia’s Freewheeler luggage, fix a bum zipper on a fleece jacket, remove pilling from a sweater and other shape-ups.

IFixit said it will also join Patagonia employees in some of the retailer’s stores on Black Friday – including the shop in Santa Monica – to help run free sewing and repair clinics for shoppers. Patagonia already operates a repair center in Reno, which it’s beefed up with more employees and technology in recent years.

At the events, Patagonia is also debuting a documentary called “Worn Wear,” about customers whose purchases have taken a beating but persevered through endless rounds of patching and restitching. An added bonus, according to organizers: free beer and live bands.

Kyle Wiens, chief executive of iFixit, said consumers stopped relying on repairs for discretionary items because of a “generational gap.”

“You’d be shocked at how many people would just never consider sewing a button on themselves,” he said. “It’s devastating. The idea is to get people back into the swing of things again.”

Patagonia’s Stanley added that the repair shops that used to dot the country when he was young began to disappear as rents and labor costs rose.

“We’ve just lost the habit,” he said. “People found that it was often cheaper to buy replacements.”


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