Thierry Millet is the last remaining umbrella repairman in Europe. He explains his job as fixing umbrellas “to save the environment.”
His company ‘Maison Pep’s Umbrella Repairs’ is unique in France. It repairs around 9000 umbrellas per year. It has been in the “umbrella area” of the Sentier de Paris for thirty-five years. Whatever the size, manual or automatic, Pep’s will repair your umbrella and save you from buying another. It does not have to be a designer umbrella, it can simply be one you got from your local supermarket. The workshop is also able to make customised items.
The level of expertise that Millet has is rare in modern day ‘throwaway’ culture where many simply buy another brolly if theirs breaks in the wind. The BBC claimed that an estimate of 500 million umbrellas are thrown away every year and that is, supposedly, enough metal to build ten Eiffel towers annually!
People from all around the world go to Millet for their umbrella repairs; he has even had customers from Sydney who have arrived with their broken umbrellas in their luggage.
He says by rescuing broken brollies he’s doing his bit for the environment. “To be able to repair something is very useful. It is useful economically because we end up spending less. You can buy a disposable umbrella for five euros. Today that seems cheap, but tomorrow the cost will be higher in terms of pollution and money.”
Millet claims that at his level, he is merely recycling umbrellas. It is a small gift to the future.