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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