Consignment shops have long specialized in clothing and furniture, but Nancy Ford has found her own niche.
At her Repair Lair in Minneapolis, she sells outdoor gear and clothing. She also repairs them, which she believes makes her store one of a kind.
She has stocked winter coats from Saks Fifth Avenue, BlueWater climbing rope, insulated Carhartt coveralls, backpacks and bicycle helmets.
Michelle Timmers found herself wandering into Repair Lair after a lunch at its neighbor, Sonora Grill.
“They have great deals on well-known brands,” she said. “I’m buying a fur hat.”
Outdoor enthusiasts familiar with prices on goods from North Face to Patagonia will find lower-than-average prices at the Longfellow neighborhood store, Ford said.
“Sometimes, a person will ask ‘Why is this $120 rain jacket so expensive?’ and I’ll point out that it’s a Patagonia that was $400 new,” she said.
Rain gear, sold year-round, is the Lake Street store’s best seller, including Gore-Tex rain pants, rain jackets and wet suits.
Mary Mateer of Minneapolis was impressed to find high-quality used camping and outdoor gear. “I found a dry top for paddling that is $85. It would be $200 new,” she said.
The majority of Ford’s revenue comes from consignment, 30 percent from repair. Ford, 58, worked for many years at Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis, where she managed the Thrifty Outfitters repair department.
“Nancy is well-known as being the go-to person for outdoor gear repair,” said Marcus Wynne of Minneapolis. “She repaired my parka that Patagonia said was unrepairable. Now the shell will outlive me.”
Ford and her five employees fix tents, sleeping bags, photography bags, camping gear and clothing. They draw the line at footwear, upholstery and alterations.
Consignors split the selling price with Ford 50-50.
Ford, a firm believer that the best thing a person can do for the planet is to use things longer, opened her store in 2014. Items that don’t sell are given away or repurposed. She will save buttons and zippers and buckles from different items, trim fabric for repairs and repurpose tents that aren’t waterproof into reusable shopping bags.
She also takes part in Patagonia’s Worn Wear College Tour coming to the University of Minnesota Wednesday.
“It helps educate people to different ways to salvage their clothes,” she said. “It’s a little like Hennepin County’s Fix-it clinics for appliances.”
Patagonia’s Worn Wear College Tour
What: Created in 2013, the Worn Wear College Tour tries to inform visitors that the “best thing to do for the planet is to use stuff longer.” A range of speakers, film screenings and student-led activities, all free, are included. A biodiesel-powered mobile repair wagon with a shell made of salvaged redwood will be on site for clothing repairs
When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday
Activities: Repair workshops, informational booths, activities and promotions, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at University of Minnesota Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Av. SE, Minneapolis. Fashion show and film screening of “The True Cost,” a documentary that explores the impact of fashion on people and the planet, 5 to 8 p.m. at the U’s Northrop Best Buy Theater, 84 Church St. SE, Minneapolis.
About Repair Lair: New and used consigned adult clothing, camping equipment, hiking boots, athletic shoes, backpacks, hats, gloves, cook sets, tents. Sewing repairs on clothing, tents, sleeping bags, zippers. (www.repairlair.com, 3304 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-729-9095)