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September 8, 2022

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Home » City specials » Hangzhou

As many things in Hangzhou change, a bicycle repair shop stays the same

SOME of the regulars at Xu Shaolin’s repair stall have been getting their bicycles repaired by him for more than 30 years. Xu’s business, located on Yejia Lane in Hangzhou’s Shangcheng District, has been running since the late 1980s and continues thanks to his low prices and top-notch skills.

Business isn’t as good as it used to be since cars have largely replaced bicycles. However, the 72-year-old bike mechanic keeps the business going no matter what happens.

For the most part, the stall’s appearance hasn’t changed much over the past 30 years. It looks humble and simple, with a shabby wooden box and poorly built shelter that’s open from 7am to 5pm.

When neighbors have problems with their bikes, they turn to Xu, who can quickly diagnose the problem.

In recent years, Xu’s customer base has grown to include many deliverymen, as he can also repair certain types of mopeds.

“Over 30 years ago when I opened the stall, bicycles dominated Hangzhou. I worked in a factory and mended bicycles part time. That’s how I raised two sons,” Xu said.

The part-time repair stall supported the family.

When the country embarked on reform and opening-up in the 1980s, his business boomed. During its heyday, he enlisted his relatives to help him.

Xu would charge 0.2 yuan (3 US cents) to patch an inner tube. At the time, his average income was around 60 yuan per month, which was considered good money.

Today, Xu has transformed the stall into a semi-volunteering repair spot.

He uses tags of different colors to differentiate the bicycles — white for disabled people, empty nesters and impoverished residents whose bikes he fixes for free, and red for ordinary people he charges a fee.

Over the years, the repair stall has gradually turned into a secluded nook on the lane as more modern houses were built around it, and his once-advanced mending tools have become antiques.


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