I stopped in to the Vale Typewriter Inc shop at 6319 Penn Avenue South in Richfield on a hot, humid Thursday morning. Mark Soderbeck was just opening up his little store, nestled next to an old fashioned barber shop. Soderbeck greeted me with a warm smile and proceeded to show me around the seemingly ancient little store with both electric and manual typewriters displayed in a neat row. The old electric typewriters immediately caught my eye with their pastel colors cleaned and restored to their original splendor. Soderbeck didn’t seem surprised as I paused next to a particularly appealing little turquoise Remington electric typewriter priced at $150. According to Soderbeck, it’s the old manual typewriters that appeal to his customers most of all, and many of his customers are of a younger generation.
It isn’t hard for me to imagine the benefit of ditching my computer for a few hours in favor of the sleek, tactile quality of a typewriter. Free from the constant distraction of social media, news sites, and the constant barrage of emails we all tolerate every day, the typewriter is a purely utilitarian machine. A select few, mostly writers, still use their old typewriters, seeking that simplicity and tactile quality.
Mark Soderbeck began repairing and selling typewriters here at Vale Typewriter Inc in 1976 and bought the business two years later. According to Soderbeck, manual typewriters need regular cleaning and oiling to keep them usable and rust-free. The regularity with which you should clean your typewriter depends on how often you use it, and how clean your home is. For example, cat owners may need to give their typewriter a tune up more often.
I enjoyed Soderbeck’s company as we stood around and chatted, mostly about the local news and infuriating state of the highways during peak summer road construction. If you’re in the market for a classic typewriter that has been lovingly restored by an expert, whether you plan to use it or just to display it, I would highly recommend Vale Typewriter Repair. Not only will you be greeted with a friendly face, you’ll also leave having learned something about a highly useful little machine.