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Highland Park typewriter repairman anxious over 250% rent hike

Highland Park typewriter repair shop

Highland Park —For more than 50 years, the owners of broken and malfunctioning Smith Coronas, Royals and Underwoods have taken their machines to Figueroa Street, where Ruben Flores, and before him his late father, Jesse, have operated another relic of a time gone by — a typewriter repair shop.  The shop survived dramatic changes in technology and business. But U.S. Office Machine Co. may have to move after receiving a steep rent hike, L.A. Taco reports.

Flores and fellow shop owners have been hit by a 250% rent increase. That would send the rent on U.S. Office Machine’s shop at the corner of Figueroa and Avenue 58 soaring to $5,000 a month.

U.S. Office Machine Co. has been at its current location since the 1980s after operating in two previous location on Figueroa. That same strip has seen a large turnover in recent years as numerous businesses, many of which catered primarily to working-class Latinos,  have closed up or moved as buildings are renovated and rents are increased in a gentrifying neighborhood.

In a 2012 video, Jesse Flores recounts how he learned the typewriter and office machine repair trade, traveled to typewriter factories to learn more about the machines and promoted his store with contests at the nearby Highland Theatre.

“Then my son started growing up and I started teaching him how to fix typewriters,” said Jesse Flores, who died in 2011.

JESSE & THE TYPEWRITER SHOP from FORM follows FUNCTION on Vimeo.

With typewriters disappearing from homes and offices, U.S. Office Machine stayed afloat by repairing computer printers and copiers and also got a boost from a renewed interest in collecting and repairing antique typewriters, said Ruben Flores in two videos. He credits his father for building a large stockpile of old typewriter parts used to complete repairs.

Flores says he has no plans to close the business. Instead, if he can’t afford to stay,  Flores told L.A. Taco that he is considering setting up shop at a trailer at the Highland Park home where he grew up.

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14 comments

  1. Can we return this building to it’s 1914 glory? http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/2418

    • Dang that’s beautiful. Maybe if one of those fancy developers gets ahold of this building they can rip all that ugly stucco off to reveal the original structure. They did that to the old printing building on Glendale/Alvarado and it looks amazing now.

  2. I guess you were trying to be “cute” with your title for this article however, it comes off as demeaning. I think any business owner would be “keyed up” over a 250% rent increase.

    • We are open to alternative headlines. Feel free to suggest them in the comments.

      • How about:

        “Small business supporting dying technology can’t keep up with rising Highland Park rents”

        or

        “Control Alt Delete: If Highland Park hipsters can’t save typewriters who can?”

        or

        “Should 50 years of business protect you from paying market rent?”

        or

        “What vegan restaurant will this typewriter shop become?”

        or

        “Can Tom Hanks save this typewriter repair shop?”

    • Ok. I decided to changed “keyed up” to anxious.

  3. Will probably end up being a coffee shop….

  4. He isn’t losing his business because his rent is going up. He’s losing his business because he runs a typewriter repair shop in the Year of Our Lord 2018. Even the “computer printer repairs on the side” income support won’t cut it when you can go to Target and get something for 80 bucks.

  5. From the article:
    In a 2012 video, Jesse Flores recounts how he learned the typewriter and office machine repair trade, traveled to typewriter factories to learn more about the machines and promoted his store with contests at the nearby Highland Theatre.
    “Then my son started growing up and I started teaching him how to fix typewriters,” said Jesse Flores, who died in 2011.

    If Jesse Flores died in 2011, how did he appear in the video in 2012? Spooky.

  6. Although old habits die hard, I suspect that Jesse could easily launch an online version of his Typewriter Shop. In fact, I think this could be a great opportunity for a young, tech-minded individual to maybe offer web design/social media services in exchange for fractional ownership of the business. I’m sure this business has a GLOBAL niche demand and with a few good hands, he could go from a small struggling local store to a thriving online business…..if he wants to of course.

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