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December 26, 2012

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Last factory zip repair in city may vanish despite demand

THE city's last zip repair service provided by a state-owned enterprise is on the verge of closure, despite the high demand for the service in winter.

Lots of residents travel across the city to Xinshen Zip Factory's repair store, which is in a narrow lane on Jiangxi Road N., every day to have their broken zips, or zippers, repaired.

They brave the cold to wait in line for the repair service, which costs only about 2 yuan (32 US cents) to 5 yuan. Residents said it's hard for them to find similar service and value elsewhere in the city.

Despite the booming business, the repair store caused losses to the factory because of rising labor costs. Some other zip factories have stopped maintenance services due to meager profits.

Factory officials say they would have to charge too much to keep the partially seasonal maintenance operation open, and it isn't their main business, in any case.

The store, which employed five workers in the past, now has only one, a 63-year-old retired woman. Others left the low-paying job. The employee surnamed Zhang is a quick hand and she is especially skilled at repairing the zips of jeans and down jackets. She declined to say how much she makes.

Though the store is supposed to be open only until 2pm every day, residents still pack the small room full of assorted zips and tools every afternoon after its closing time. Zhang is seldom able to get off work on time.

"I have known the zip repair store since I was a little child," said a male customer in his 60s. "I trust the store. Here are all types of zips and the workers are very professional."

In comparison to the popularity of the service in winter, the business is slack in summer and employees have a hard time earning enough, Zhang complained.

"The job needs young people to continue," Zhang said. "But few young people are interested."

Plenty of customers living in areas as far away as the suburban Qingpu District come to the store.

Some other state-owned enterprises such as Sanxing Zip Store halted the service years ago.

"It's very inconvenient to find a repairman now," said resident Nikko Zhao. "I miss the old neighborhood and lanes with lots of cheap tailors and repair stores."


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