Saving iPods from the Landfill


Matt Bremner was fixing notebook computers and buying parts on eBay, where he noticed that there were lots of broken iPods for sale. He even heard of people just tossing them in the garbage and buying new ones. Seeing a niche, Matt tossed up a website and in late June opened a storefront in Toronto . In keeping with the theme, it is elegant, tiny and white, and feels like a high style reception room, albeit nano-sized at 250 square feet. Our daughter Emma having a dead out-of-warranty iPod, we paid him a visit.


Matt and employee Jordan Stacey see 30 patients a day, 60% walk-in and the rest by mail from Canada and the US. "We get loads of walk-ins, like a million people walk by here" and being on trendy College Street, most have iPods. He tells us that it is a pretty straightforward process given that there are four basic components- the screen, the battery, the mainboard and the hard drive. Apple doesn't sell parts, but except for the mainboard all of the components are available from the manufacturers. He gathers the motherboards from eBay units and even sometimes buys new ones for parts. The work is done while you wait, usually in 10 minutes. While we were there two other customers crowded in.

Emma's machine had a fried mainboard; you could see the burn from it on the hard drive. 10 minutes (happily spent yakking with the other customers and watching the operation) and C$70 later we were out the door. Compared to a repair under warranty (two weeks, C$40 shipping), the experience was a joy.

We used to live in a culture where there were shoe repair and appliance repair shops all over town. These all faded away as the gear was designed to be pitched rather than fixed and was cheap enough that people didn't think twice about it. iPods, although expensive, are treated as if disposable and some say Apple wants it that way. To their discredit, Apple offers no support to entrepreneurs like Matt, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't. Thanks to Matt, one less dead iPod got stuck in a drawer or tossed in the garbage.


Read our earlier post on our ::Nano.