One of the last typewriters to be repaired at Typewriters ‘N Things got its overhaul on Dec. 19. After servicing typewriters for nearly 40 years, Bino Gan is closing his New York City shop.
Nicole Bengiveno • New York Times,
Bino Gan started his shop in 1987. Typewriters have gone the way of the rotary telephone.
Typewriter repair shop for the rich and famous closes on Tuesday
- Article by: COREY KILGANNON
- New York Times
- December 28, 2013 - 6:39 PM
NEW YORK - Bino Gan has never seen any of Woody Allen’s movies, but in his own way he has helped in the writing of them. Gan has made sure that the famous Olympia typewriter Allen uses to write his screenplays is always in good pecking order.
Gan also is not a huge fan of Francis Ford Coppola, but he did service the Olivetti that Coppola used to write the Oscar-winning screenplay for “The Godfather.” (Yes, Gan has seen it.)
He has also serviced the typewriters of writer and editor William Packard and celebrities like designer Tommy Hilfiger. Despite Gan’s link to boldface names, a majority of his customers have been the many local writers he has kept clacking away during his nearly 40 years as a typewriter repairman.
But Gan’s typewriter-fixing days are coming to a close. He is shuttering his shop, Typewriters ‘N Things, for good on Tuesday. “I’ve been working on typewriters most of my life, and I’m a little tired,” said Gan, who with his wife, Nita, now mostly sells office supplies at the shop. Gan is only 60, but “you age faster in the retail business,” he said.
“My last vacation was in 2006,” said Gan, who plans on relaxing at his home in Dumont, N.J.
Aside from test-tapping the keys to evaluate a unit’s condition, Gan said he has never really used a typewriter himself — nor a computer, for that matter.
A Filipino immigrant, he came to New York in 1976 and learned his trade by working at the typewriter repair shop in midtown Manhattan that his brother opened after he left the Philippines. In 1987, Gan founded his own store, which has moved three times.
Years ago, Gan worked full time on the machines, along with his three other repairmen. But by 2000, with the rise of computers, repair requests had nearly halted, although they have become more common over the past five years.
Some older writers have stayed loyal to typewriters, and some younger ones have become fascinated by them. Also, he said, many parents like to expose their children to them. “People want them as working antiques,” said Gan, one of a dwindling tribe of typewriter repairers still in business in New York.
Numerous customers have brought their typewriters in for one last repair, providing a spike in business for Gan in the waning days of his career.
Customer John Gresham, a 68-year-old attorney, brought in his Royal typewriter from the 1930s for one last cleaning.
“I wanted to make sure I got it in shape while there’s still someone who can fix it,” he said.
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