Where to Get Stuff Fixed
Don’t fret: Help is on the way when something breaks.
Philip Abbott, Abbott’s Shoe Repair in Newark
Admit it: There’s something that needs to be fixed in your life. Is it that moth-eaten hole in your favorite sweater? The stagnant treadmill that just sits there making you feel guilty? Or maybe it’s Mimi the Panda, the stuffed toy whose leg is hanging on by a thread. Here to help is an army of local craftsmen who can repair everything from the everyday to the exotic.
Whether it’s replacing a broken window, assembling flat-pack furniture, childproofing the kitchen—even washing your dog—Handyman Matters of Northern Delaware (540-8263, www.handymanmatters.com/northern-delaware) is up to the task, says owner Keith Orr, who started the business after returning home from 23 years in the Army. Orr’s employees, all of whom have passed criminal background checks, are capable of 1,162 different jobs, and labor and materials are guaranteed for one year. There’s a one-hour minimum, but if the work doesn’t take that long, Orr says, “You can tell the guys to wash the dog, clean out the refrigerator, hang pictures, whatever you need.” Estimates are free. The first hour, which includes a $35 service fee, is $110, with every additional 15 minutes prorated. Another option, especially below the canal: The Delaware Small Business Chamber will find a service professional for you. Visit www.dsbchamber.com/need-a-service or call 482-2120.
Take it from Joyce Hill Stoner, who has cleaned chocolate mousse from artworks at Hotel du Pont, treated a painting in an Italian restaurant that smelled of oregano and mended huge tears in canvases: Don’t throw out that piece of art—just don’t try to fix it yourself. “It’s always better to leave it alone,” says Stoner, director of the preservation studies program for the University of Delaware. Fortunately, UD and Winterthur offer a free monthly clinic to which the public can bring all manner of art objects and receive advice on their care (www.winterthur.org/?p=577). Appointments are required: 888-4786. Or find a vetted conservator at the American Institute for Conservation’s website, www.conservation-us.org/membership/find-a-conservator. Locally, conservators charge about $100 an hour, Stoner says.
Joyce Hill Stoner, director of the preservation studies program for the University of Delaware
Bathtub and Tile Reglazing
Is your tub grimy or chipped? Or maybe you’re just tired of the color of your bathroom tile. Companies such as Wilmington’s Brandywine Resurfacing (654-8744, www.brandywineresurfacing.com) can make your bathroom look like new with resurfacing at a fraction of the cost. Other options: Bath Fitter (Newark, 454-0455, www.bathfitter.com), Custom Porcelain (Townsend, 378-4620).
Cell Phone Screens
Stop torturing yourself with that cracked smartphone screen. Ring up Cell Phone Repair (378-4695, www.cellphonerepair.com/middletown-de) in Middletown, The Cell Phone Shop Delaware (Newark Farmers Market, 256-1090, www.thecellphoneshoprepairs.com), CrackBreakFix.com (several locations, including Rehoboth Beach, 645-5100, www.thelaptopshops.com).
Clocks and Watches
Ron Currey has been reviving clocks and watches made in the 1920s and ’30s for the past 30 years as the owner of the Watchmaker (3619 Kirkwood Hwy., No. 1, Wilmington, 999-9040). To fix or not to fix? “Sometimes, it’s not worth it,” he says. “But we look at everything at sentimental value. You can’t replace that.” Also worth your time: B. Gustafson Clock & Watch Repair (403 Federal St., Milton, 684-8184), Bridgewater Jewelers (318 Delaware St., New Castle, 328-2101, www.bridgewaterjewelers.com), Dan-Tech Watch and Jewelry Repairs (1808 Newport Gap Pike, 652-7326); Forney’s Jewelers (106 W. Loockerman St., Dover, 734-3425, www.forneysjewelers.com), Harris Jewelers (309 Branmar Plaza, Wilmington, 475-3101; 4377 Kirkwood Plaza, Wilmington, 999-9901, www.harrisjewelers.net), House of Watches and Fine Jewelry (1330 Washington St., Wilmington, 654-7751; 2505 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 478-3098, www.wilmingtonhouseofwatches.com), Minster’s Jewelers (205 Newark Shopping Center, 737-5947, www.minstersjewelers.com).
Before you toss that piece of clothing you think is no longer wearable, take it to Ted’s Tailor Shop and Cleaners (2606 Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington, 998-0985). “We do everything,” says Ted Brzozka, who has run the store for more than 30 years and grew up in Poland making clothes from scratch. Prices depend on the size of the job—repairing a small hole can cost just $5. Ted’s also alters wedding and prom gowns. Along the same thread: Georgetown Tailors (280 N. Rehoboth Blvd., Milford, 422-2055), H&K Tailoring (4001 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 478-3381), Italo’s Tailor Shop (64 E. Main St., Newark, 366-8031), King’s Tailoring (3307 Silverside Road, Wilmington, 478-5130), Manh Alterations (529 George Washington Drive, Dover, 678-0469), Seams Easy (by appointment, New Castle, 743-6199).
Just because you’ve spilled liquid on your laptop doesn’t mean it’s sunk, says Damian Muzzi, who can build a computer from scratch in less than seven minutes and who runs DJM Computer Repair (14 Valley Road, Wilmington, 530-3338, www.djmcomputerrepair.weebly.com) out of his home. “A lot of people don’t realize you can salvage a laptop,” he says. Much of Muzzi’s work consists of cleaning malware and junkware off machines. He offers free diagnostics and estimates. Or you might click with The Computer Doctor (free house calls throughout Delaware, 697-7700, www.computerdrde.com), Computer Jocks (726 Pulaski Hwy., Bear, 295-1360, www.webeatthegeeks.com), Computer Renaissance (4345 Kirkwood Hwy., Ste. 101, Wilmington, 683-9323, www.comprenwilmington.com), Delaware PC Services (20660 Coastal Hwy., Unit 4, Rehoboth Beach, 226-5424, www.delawarepcservices.com), Geek Tweek (text or call 465-7842, www.geektweekllc.com), Kehtron Computers (2900 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 477-1760, www.kehtron.com).
Damian Muzzi,, DJM Computer Repair in Wilmington
Dolls, Stuffed Animals
Karen Pugh, a professional member of the Doll Doctor’s Association, has been restoring well-loved dolls and stuffed animals for 35 years at her Loved to Pieces Doll Hospital (105 Culver Drive, Laurel, 875-4851, www.antiquedollrepairs.com). Her most common surgery: restringing, when the arms, legs or head fall off a doll. For an 8-inch figure, the cost starts at $15 and can run up to $50 for a large, German ball-jointed doll.
Karen Pugh, Loved to Pieces Doll Hospital in Laurel
If you haven’t hopped onto that treadmill in your spare room because it needs fixing, you’re out of excuses. Delaware’s first Exertech franchise (405 Shipley Road, Wilmington, 762-3524, www.exertechfitness.com) can repair all cardio and strength fitness equipment, says owner Gabe Forest. “The higher-end stuff is usually worth fixing,” he adds. Most jobs can be completed in an hour, which means $125 for a diagnostic visit, $125 for the fix-it, plus the cost of parts.
Fishing Rods and Reels
Old Inlet Bait & Tackle (25012 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 227-7974, www.oldinlet.com) has been fixing rods and reels since 1962—and it’s one of the few remaining shops that do. (You can also try Rick’s Bait & Tackle, 26019 Julia’s Lane, Millsboro, 866-766-3792, www.ricksbaitandtackle.com). Clark Evans, who owns Old Inlet with his father, says the most common rod repair is replacing the tip. “Quite a few people are surprised they can get it fixed on the spot and for less than $10,” he says. Have a sentimental piece you just want cleaned up to mount on the wall? They do that, too.
Not sure whether your grandmother’s old armoire is worth restoring? Email a photo to R&R Furniture Restoration (310 Hudson Drive, Newark, 252-5599, www.rr-furniturerestoration.com), says owner Bob Dreibelbis Sr., whose family has been refurbishing antique furniture for more than 50 years. “If the piece of furniture is solid, solid wood or good veneer, it can be refinished,” he says. The shop specializes in pieces made through the early 1950s. It also strips shutters, molding, doors and outdoor furniture. Estimates are free. Other options: Jeffrey D. Stanley Furniture Restoration (919 Sugar Pine Drive, Bear, 838-7001), Melroy’s Furniture Refinishing & Chair Caning (20597 Mulberry Knoll Road, Lewes, 645-1856, www.melroysrefinishing.com), New Life Furniture Systems (165 Ayre St., Newport, 994-9054, www.newlifefurniturede.com).
Hearing aids are expensive enough. So when they break, it’s good to know there are places out there that can repair them. Audiologist Michael Michelli oversees such fixes at the Brandywine Hearing Center (3605 Silverside Road, Wilmington, 478-4942, www.brandywinehearing.com). Perhaps most important, they will fix devices that were purchased elsewhere. There’s also Delaware Hearing Aids (1601 Concord Pike, Ste. 65, Independence Mall, Wilmington, 652-3558, www.delawarehearingaids.com). Downstate? Try Seaford Audiology (24488 Sussex Hwy., Ste. 4, 629-8078, Seaford; 32034 Long Neck Road, Millsboro, 945-8886, www.seafordaudiology.com).
Ted Kusters, who has owned Abba Monument Co. (94 Albe Drive, Newark, 738-0272, www.headstonesnewarkde.com) for more than 45 years, doesn’t just sell headstones—he repairs and cleans them throughout the state. He works on all kinds of stones, including old marble markers that are softer than granite. He will meet you at the site for a free estimate. Jobs generally start at $100. He often teams up with Pauley Cemetery Memorials (3110 Lancaster Ave., Wilmington, 658-7002), another family-owned shop that has been in business since 1915.
Ted Kusters, Abba Monument Co. in Newark
You don’t have to fret over a guitar that’s strumming the blues. The Guitar Center (5141 Brandywine Parkway, 478-3831, www.stores.guitarcenter.com/wilmington) will restring ($20-$30) or reset ($60-$65) your instrument and perform other repairs, says tech Mike Boughter. Is your band instrument under the weather? Accent Music (5810-A Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington, 999-9939, www.accentmusic.com) repairs brass, string and woodwind instruments. And for those in possession of a historic or high-end guitar, banjo or mandolin in need of restoration, there’s master luthier Dana Sutcliffe (439-3677, www.danamusic.com).
Prosthetics and Orthotics
Independence Prosthetics-Orthotics (31 Meadowood Drive, Newark, 369-9476, www.independencepo.com) is a popular place to turn for maintenance on braces, lifts and other devices that need calibration, realignment or socket replacements. Office manager Rachel Klevis says the firm provides all major services and conducts its work in an on-site lab. Another service provider is Lawall Prosthetics and Orthotics (800-735-4627, www.lawall.com), which has two locations in Wilmington, including at the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, and one in Dover.
The next time you look at your old Oriental carpet, think about how many feet have walked on it. Then call one of the state’s two rug-cleaning plants: Lang Carpet (1001 N. Union St., Wilmington, 655-6074, www.langcarpet.com) or Brasure’s Carpet Care (35131 Lighthouse Road, Selbyville, 436-5652, www.brasurescarpetcare.com). “We wash the rugs, which is different than most places,” says Tom Lang, a fourth-generation member of a family that has been cleaning rugs for 115 years. Both companies do restoration, repairs and reweaving. Lang charges $2.25/square foot to clean a rug—and that includes pickup and delivery.
Shoes, Bags and More
Don’t let the name fool you. Philip Abbott, owner of Abbott’s Shoe Repair (92 E. Main St., No. 2, Newark, 368-8813) can fix just about anything. He recalls a customer whose boat sail ripped during a race from Maine to Florida, leaving him stranded in Delaware. When the sailor asked where to have it repaired, several people told him, “Take it to Abbott’s.” Since 1950, when Abbott’s dad opened the store, the family has repaired everything from tents to marching band banners to, yes, shoes. Or hoof it over to Choe’s Shoe Doctor (formerly Joe’s Shoe Repair) (4712 Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington, 999-0316), Fast Feet Shoe Repair (1365 N. Dupont Hwy., No. 2048, Dover, 674-8199; 4737 Concord Pike, Concord Mall, Wilmington, 478-5300), Shoe Tech (111 W. Ninth St., Wilmington, 656-0405, www.shoetechinc.com).
Yep, people still get their vacuums repaired. And with good reason, says Steve Gray, owner of Steve’s Sew-N-Vac (4518 Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington, 998-4851, www.sew-n-vac.com), who has been fixing the machines for 40 years. A good, repaired vacuum will perform better than a cheaper, new model, says Gray, whose shop refurbishes 10-15 every day. Sew-N-Vac also offers free estimates. One piece of advice: Make sure the shop you choose is a member of the Vacuum and Sewing Dealers Trade Association (www.vdta.com). A sampling: Mr. Vac (205 S. Dupont Hwy., Camden, 698-2133), Tri-State Vacuum (212 W. Market St., Newport, 995-2997, www.tristatevacuum.com), Stony Brook Sew & Vac (2107 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 478-1445, www.stonybrooksewandvac.com). By the way, both Steve’s and Stony Brook fix sewing machines.
With its temperate weather, spring is a good time to repair windows. No job is too small for P.J. Fitzpatrick (888-446-6492, www.pjfitz.com), which has been in the home improvement business for more than 35 years. The company services all three counties and often will dispatch a crew within 24 hours. Glass Doctor of Delaware (444-8529, www.glassdoctor.com/newark-de) can repair glass in individual panes without replacing the entire window frame. The Glass Guru (538-9750, www.theglassguruofnewark.com) will clear windows of fog, water stains and scratches. And Premier Glass & Screen (33937 Premier Drive, Frankford, 732-3101, www.premierglassandscreen.com) provides glass, screen and mirror repairs.
How We Did It
To compile this listing of services, we consulted Consumers’ Checkbook (www.checkbook.org), a regional nonprofit consumer rating agency, conducted many interviews with craftsmen and customers, reviewed trade group directories and conducted independent research.