We are living in rare times, when tightening personal budgets are intersecting with an increased awareness of our personal impact on the environment. This leads us to a new zeitgeist, a novel consumer sensibility that demands the wiser use of resources. Many individuals are beginning to consider repair options over replacement, especially when it comes to automobiles and the electronic systems those automobiles contain—such as GPS and stereo equipment. There are successful shops around the country whose entire business model focuses on factory car audio repair.
The Way Things Were
While it is obviously in the interest of the industries that produce these products that consumers continue to consume, companies and individuals skilled in the repair of such items have begun to proliferate. The fact that they are thriving does testify to the idea that repair is often more cost effective and savvy than outright repurchase. While it is true that, in some cases, a new purchase simply makes more sense, the vast majority of consumers have come to understand that many of these decisions in the past rested on a lack of knowledge of how things worked.
The idea that if something is broken, it’s garbage is beginning to fade from the consumer consciousness, and that’s all to the good. Instead, it is being replaced with a sense of inquiry. Something has malfunctioned. If an individual lacks the knowledge to assess the problem effectively and decide on the proper course of action, specialists are now available to help them with this determination.
Paradigm Shifts
While some may contend that the shift away from new purchase behavior on a large scale will harm national or international economies, this is only partially true. It is likely to bruise the profit margins of the companies that are responsible for the manufacture and distribution of these products.
However, money is still being spent, pumped into the economy, and in relative motion. Automotive mechanic shops with good reputations have always sought to employ those skilled in understanding mechanical issues and possessed of excellent critical thinking skills. What this translates to are mechanics who understand the way things work and how to fix them when they malfunction. In the age of onboard computers, this requires skills that overlap the computer and electronic engineering fields, ranging beyond an intimate practical knowledge of physics and physical relationships.
Your car is a complex universe of interrelating parts and components, but there are an increasing number of individuals who know how to exist in this universe, even if you do not. These craftsmen and women can repair many issues, because they aren’t fatal flaws in the overall system. Moreover, it pays for shops to price their services based on what the traffic will bear, so the consumer is benefiting in the end. The shift lies in the acquisition and exercise of knowledge, coupled with advancing technology.
The same can be said of your GPS and car stereo systems. The niche market for repair of custom stereo equipment has also blossomed in recent years, attracting enterprising individuals and small companies to offer skilled repair services to the consumer public for prices that compete with those of wholesale replacement. In the end, these developments are not signs of a sick economy, but one that is on the mend. Individuals are investing in refurbishment and repair instead of replacement. This encouraging sign of consumer resilience only bodes for smarter, greener, and more cost effective market economy developments in the future.

Mark Cord

wooblering@gmail.com