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After the demise of the repair shops on Tottenham Court Road, London’s repair businesses took a blow. But a visit to Stratford Computer Fair reveals that face-to-face electronic repair and sales are not yet things of the past.
The closure of shops on Tottenham Court Road, and the disappearance of the computer fair hosted by the UCL Student Union in Bloomsbury, was preceded by a slow but steady demise. Brick-and-mortar businesses disappeared as online competitors snapped up more and more of their customers.
In many ways, the Internet has made it easier to source parts and find repair information. But it has major drawbacks. It is often very difficult to identify the right part, and with difficult repairs, YouTube videos are often simply not enough.
This week we visit Stratford Computer Fair, a weekly meeting point for traders and customers where they can pitch their services and do repair onsite. We talk to several traders, old and young, about the history and the future of the fair, and hear some interesting opinions about the role of the Internet in the changing landscape of London’s repair economy.
It is clear that there is real value in face-to-face contact. More difficult to assess is when it is right to try DIY repair, and when should you consult a professional. Along with this question, we ask how repair people can involve their customers more in the process.
Links to things we discussed: