Monona business saves appliances by repairing them
MONONA, Wis. — Increasingly we are becoming a throwaway society, especially when it comes to electronics and small appliances. Your coffee maker quits, you throw it away and get a new one.
Last year, in Madison alone, the city collected over 326 tons of electronics. That’s anything with a plug. Some of it gets recycled, but the rest ends up in the landfill. But there is another option: How about getting it fixed, instead?
Kiefer Appliance on Monona Drive does just that. Wayne Kiefer and his son Kip save Grandma’s old mixer, lamp or clock the old-fashioned way: They mostly repair things from the pre-digital era.
The business started on State Street in Madison 75 years ago, repairing shavers and fountain pens. Wayne bought the business in 1982 and moved it to the Monona location 35 years ago. That’s when people still fixed things.
“We had four employees plus myself,” Wayne Kiefer reminisced. “That’s when it was in its hay day and we fixed a lot of things, but that was when you could fix toaster ovens and mixers. And all this little stuff, it’s just not repairable now. Nobody wants to fix it.”
Some appliances can’t be fixed.
“The companies don’t see any parts for any of the new appliances,” Kiefer said. “I can’t even get beaters for a Sunbeam mixer that’s more than five, six years old. So if the beaters go bad, if you break a beater, you throw the whole machine out and go buy a new one.”
Kiefer says it’s a generational thing. Most of his customers are older.
Business these days is steady. The shop is almost one of a kind. The next closest one like it is in St. Louis, so the Kiefers have customers all over the country, thanks to the internet. The duo is keeping old appliances working and out of the landfill.
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