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Gear Fix, Fix My Gear

The biggest problem for outdoor sports enthusiasts living within an hour of fantastic skiing, climbing, mountain biking, and boating is affording and maintaining gear. That problem becomes increasingly frustrating when an innocuous $.89 zipper breaks on a $300 coat.

That’s where Gear Fix steps in. Originally conceived as a gear consignment shop, Gear Fix’s growing repair services have garnered respect throughout Oregon’s adventure community.

Aptly located on Century Drive, the road that leads to the Cascade Lakes in the summer and Mount Bachelor Ski Resort in the winter, Gear Fix’s storefront tells more about the shop than a sign or website might. A self-service bicycle “fixit” station greets customers looking to fill their tires or tighten a bracket. Meanwhile, rows of bikes looking for a home hang in the windows of the 3400-square-foot building.

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A step inside first reveals the shop’s original purpose—seasonal consignment clothes and gear. The bi-level main floor separates the racks of coats, pants and shirts from the skis or bikes, depending upon the season. But the back of the shop, upstairs, as well as the alternate repair building out back, are where the magic happens. In the winter, shop employees busily wax skis and repair bindings, while summertime shows the same employees tuning bikes and truing wheels.

Upstairs is divided between the shop’s selection of team sports equipment, an employee lounge, and a shoe resoling area. In the latter, trained cobblers work on every type of footwear imaginable, from hiking boots to Birkenstocks. But climbing-shoe work dominates—the team has resoled 2000 pairs since March of 2013 when they began offering the service. Gear Fix gets resoling requests from around the world, and regularly picks up shoes from drop-off locations in Terrebonne, Portland and Salem.

Gear Fix began in 2008 when owner Josh Sims fulfilled a lifelong dream by purchasing Repeat Performance, a low-cost outdoor gear resale store located on Colorado Avenue. A new Bend resident and aspiring rafting guide, Sims envisioned his updated shop as a modern day trading post and local community resource.

“I wanted to get people to look at gear as a long-term investment and expose them to the idea of repair over replace,” says Sims.

Sims and his employees immediately began ski repair, but quickly realized they needed a larger shop for full-service work. A move to Century Drive two years later allowed them to add bicycle maintenance, and then shoe repair, to their list of services. Gear Fix became fully realized when Sims leased a 1000-square-foot repair center, located a short walk from the main building, and added seven industrial sewing machines. By February 2014, Gear Fix was renamed and rebranded to promote service repair work.

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Ten full-time employees have a passion for the outdoors. Each employee actually uses the gear they sell, and can offer expert advice on necessary equipment or modifications. Every three months, Sims shuts down the shop and takes a three-day outdoor excursion with his staff, using gear sold at the shop. Gear Fix’s crew also shares Sims’ commitment to the community. Gear Fix typically leans toward youth- and outdoor-based programs in their philanthropy, which includes running a climbing shoe donation program for local climbing nonprofits, and donating to local environmental causes, as well.

Gear Fix’s real gift to the community is the concept at the very core of their business—the promotion of reusing and recycling. In April they partnered with local nonprofit, Rethink Waste, to hold a Repair Cafe event and help community members to fix bicycles, clothes and other small items. Gear Fix also holds repair clinics for bikes as well as alpine and backcountry skis. They even rent out their own equipment to encourage do-it-yourselfers to sew clothes or create specialized pieces. For local entrepreneurs, Gear Fix offers retail space to outdoor gear companies to test their wares.

In the future, Sims hopes to expand the number of clinics offered and  move the repair area to a more visible location within the building to highlight its usefulness.

“Our mission is to change the way people connect to the outdoors and their communities,” explains Sims. “You do it by showing them and setting an example. That’s what we are trying to do.”

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