Orem’s Mending Shed going out of business after 50 years
It’s called “planned obsolescence.” Companies are making products and when you buy a thing and you can’t fix it, you have to throw the old one away and get a replacement. The Mending Shed, a longtime fixture on Orem’s State Street, can no longer fix itself and is going out of business.
Hollie Holcomb’s dad opened The Mending Shed in June 1971, a month after her parents got married. It has been a family business ever since, sitting at the top of the Provo/Orem hill at 1735 S. State St.
The Mending Shed has been the go-to location for maintenance workers, tinkerers and everyday people who need to repair everything from KitchenAid mixers or sewing machines to larger appliances. Part of the reason is because of how the business world is changing.
“There are lots of tears over the business,” Holcomb said. “Business has changed and companies are making things irreparable. COVID-19 sped up the process.”
Holcomb is proud, though, that the family business stayed open for over five decades, adding that “the last two years have certainly been different.”
Holcomb places some of the blame on big-box retailers like Amazon and Costco, but she said companies are not making parts for repairs on their own products either, limiting The Mending Shed’s supply.
According to Holcomb, The Mending Shed would be thriving in almost any other state, but her customers want things for the cheapest price possible and aren’t excited about paying higher labor costs. The current U.S. inflation rate is 6%, down from 6.5% in 2022 but still much higher than 2020 (1.4%) and previous pre-COVID years.
“They get the information from us and then buy on Amazon,” Holcomb said. “They need to be willing to change their shopping habits. People are being cautious with their money.”
The Mending Shed isn’t the only one that is having these problems, Holcomb said. Many other local and small businesses are being lost because folks can shop online for less.
Holcomb said recently a gentleman called because he had lost the cord to his electric shaver. She said she had the cord he needed, but he decided to just take it back to Costco and get a new one.
“Costco is killing us,” Holcomb said. “Kitchen mixers aren’t worth repairing. It costs $150 to fix a mixer. Even after four years of usage a customer just took theirs back to Costco.”
Holcomb noted that they have to pay more to repair things than it would cost to buy replacements from Costco. Holcomb said they are working on ways to potentially save the business — maybe even teaching do-it-yourself repairs on YouTube or in person.
Going out of business is going to take a while at The Mending Shed. Holcomb has 52 years of miscellaneous merchandise to divest from in the store.
“In this business you become a hoarder,” Holcomb said.
Plenty of microwave glass trays are for sale along with regular products and other supplies. Everything is currently 20% off.
A GoFundMe page was set up for The Mending Shed, which needs about $500,000. After about a week, they have $955, as of Monday evening.
“We love working with the community,” Holcomb said. “We want to say thanks to those who have been so supportive.”
Holcomb added that she doesn’t want to sugar-coat anything. The community and the wider world have changed and she has a plea for consumers in Orem and beyond.
“Quit shopping from your computer and get out into the community,” she said. “It’s so important.”