Exposure

The Coolest Gear Repair Shop in the U.S.

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Photo: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
Nancy Ford runs the kind of store we all wish we had in our neighborhood. For two years now, she and her staff at the Repair Lair in Minneapolis, Minnesota, have repaired thousands of outdoor items, giving everything from bike shoes to sleeping bags a new life. All day long customers wander in with gear that needs some love. In the winter, it’s often a torn or burnt down coat. During the summer she sees a lot of broken zippers. (The store has done more than 500 zipper repairs this year alone.) She’s self taught, and she’s passed everything she’s learned onto her employees. “I try to fix what I have because I’m a cheap-ass, not because I’m green,” she says. “Spend less on gear, more on beer.” To find out what her repair and consignment shop looks like on the inside, we sent local photographers Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber to check it out.
Photo: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
Various used backpacks line the wall at the Repair Lair. The store will also repair mailed-in gear.
Photo: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
The exterior of the Repair Lair on Lake Street in Minneapolis. The store is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. You can find them on Facebook.
Photo: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
Nancy Ford's desk at the Repair Lair.
Photo: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
A colorful array of zippers hangs on the wall in the shop.
Photo: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
Alex Jacobson repairs a suitcase.
Photo: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
Jacobson prepares to patch a tent.
Photo: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
An assortment of used, repaired bike shoes on sale.
Photo: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
Repair Lair owner Nancy Ford and her dog Lucy.
Photo: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
Jacobson inspects a tent for tears.
Photo: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
Nancy Ford's desk at the Repair Lair.
Photo: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
The shop dog, Lucy, naps under a clothing rack.
Photo: Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber
Employee Cooper White rolls out a rack of clothing.

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