Many Americans wept with the passing of chains like Blockbuster Video, another beloved generational relic replaced by consumers through the convenience of new technology. But, did a cry echo throughout the nation when personal home computers and laptops made the typewriter obsolete? Probably not.
However, in some communities scattered throughout the country, there are a handful of typewriter and typewriter repair shops that add a sense of historical flair on top of a wave of nostalgia for those that remember the clicking and clacking of a mechanical typewriter many years ago. Recently, the community of Highland Park, California, closed one chapter of history as one of the nation’s last remaining typewriter shops closed its doors.
The family operated Flores Typewriter Repair shop, which has been in business for 36-years, closed its doors and gave its keys over to the landlord after a recent spike in rent costs as well as diminishing demand for typewriters forced the family to make a difficult decision. Reports by local outlets state the business is a victim of not only neighborhood gentrification but also a victim of progress itself. The store itself primarily kept itself busy by the loyal customer base which would regularly bring in their old typewriters for repairs and sometimes restoration.
While many blame the fact that we live in a digital world for the death of the typewriter as a relevant tool, Ruben Flores, the store owner, says a lack of customers was never really a problem. “I’m going to be running the business out of my living room and eventually figure out a way to get a trailer or build another building for it in my house,” Ruben said, adding that he hopes one day a rich samaritan can swing by and purchase the many antique and functioning typewriters still in his possession.
In terms of the clientele that was keeping the store afloat, customers ranged from more mature writers who never quite adapted to computers to younger folks who wished to restore family typewriters as heirlooms. Even millennials and teenagers have gone on the prowl for typewriters as a way of focusing more on the craft of writing and spending less time distracted by nagging notifications and the threat of spending an entire afternoon spent on YouTube.
One review on Yelp of the Flores family shop validated that last point, telling readers “I met him [Ruben] in 2015 when a sudden artistic whim brought me to start delving into typewriters. The culprit, a can-do-the-job Olympia SM-7, was taken into his humble, yet magical shop, and Ruben was gracious to take a look at the machine, and clean it.”
Despite what seems to be the end of the brick-and-mortar typewriter writer shop, there has been a renewed interest in typewriters across the country, especially over the last several years. The 2017 documentary “California Typewriter” which features entertainment legends such as Tom Hanks and John Mayer, reached hundreds of thousands of writers and artists who had never touched a typewriter and then became inspired to find one on their own thanks to the online streaming service Hulu. This has sparked what many have referred to as the “Typewriter Revolution.”
Regardless, the end of the Flores family shop marks the end of one community’s history as tomorrow brings forth another chapter; as newer technology comes in and older technology is pushed out.
Sources: L.A. Taco, Good Morning Sacramento