unusual businesses in Israel that make or mend things…

Something I really like about Jerusalem is the abundance of family based businesses, I have mentioned about the Shuk, the open market for fruit, vegetables, meat and bread, etc which often some bread will be made in the back of the shop selling it.   Of course, anyone who has been to Jerusalem will have checked out the Arab shops in the centre of the old city where its usually expected to barter for something, be it a Hebrew Coca Cola T-shirt, a Menorah, a wooden nativity set, a brass teapot or a pretty middle eastern multicoloured silk scarf.  The vendor will start with an absurdly high price which you normally aim to pay 10-50% of that, this is normal part of stores geared towards tourists in the middle east and other countries like Morocco.  These people are ultra pushy and aggressive in their aim to sell you something and its impossible to simply go in and take a wander and look at things without any intervention.

As well as the traditional types of shops you expect to find here theres some others that are more unusual types of store.

The shoemakers

I thought maybe these places sell hand made shoes but actually its more of case of the repair shoes but also sell other leather products.

Recently my trouser belt is looking a bit worn out.  The hole where the pin goes through has got bigger and the material has weakened so sometimes the belt will start to slip undone, so its time for a new one.

In the shoemakers you can buy a belt made to your preference, ie: there is a collection of 20 or so types straps in different materials and colours, traditional leather or man-made fabrics, and separately you can choose the belt buckle, again one of a couple of dozen types of metal fastening.   The gentleman in the store will make you up your new belt with your choice of the two parts, this will cost 90 shekels (£15)   This was a little more than I am used to paying so I told him I would maybe come again another day.  I did end up buying a much cheaper one from somewhere else, the only thing was is there wasn’t enough holes in it, so I got a colleague from the home repair team to drill a couple of extra holes in it.

The TV shop

Last week we had some audio speakers at work that were used for teaching and board meetings, but they got slightly damaged and the phono plug got stood on and the centre pin of the plug was broken.   Often people would expect to throw them away and get new speakers, but these were good quality and it seemed a shame to throw them away when I might have some time to fix them on some quiet afternoon.

Me being the geek and wanting to repair things as economically as possible I thought I could maybe pick up a normal 2 metre or so phono cable and snip off one of the ends and solder it into the back of the speaker.  So I went into a small electrical shop in Agrippas street.  Here there are large amounts of replacement remote controls, cables and batteries for sale, I speak to the shopkeeper but he had a better idea, he opens a series of drawers and found a loose phono plug and offered to solder it for me for just 8 shekels, bargain!   I was chatting to the man and his son and he mainly fixes TVs, even the modern flat panel units.

Amazing as I don’t think there are any TV repair shops back in my city in the UK any more, people are used to throwing away a TV and buying a new one, I guess its a case there is so few skilled people to do it any more.

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