Mark Mroz grew up taking things apart to find out how they worked.
Mroz, 35, of Tyler, has taken his love of fixing all things and opened a new local business — The Fix Shop.
“The Fix Shop is a repair shop for everything broken,” he said. “We really repair anything, but we try to stick to the things that really mean something to you. We focus on vintage electronics, record players, turntables, amplifiers and instruments, keyboards, computers, things like that.”
He specializes in anything musical, as well as any Apple product, such as Macbooks, iPhones and iPads. He also fixes bicycles and furniture.
“We fix so many things,” he said.
Mroz grew up in Connecticut, and while in high school, he went to a vocational trade school, learning electronics and academics at the same time.
Throughout his life, he has always done different kinds of repair. No matter what job he had, Mroz fixed things for people on the side.
With time, he gained confidence that he could make it into a full-time business, he said.
His wife of nearly two years, Laura Mroz, 26, grew up Lindale, and the pair met in 2004 through a mutual friend while they both lived in Virginia. She was there attending nursing school, has a background in labor and delivery nursing and is working to become a midwife.
After dating for several years, they decided to marry and move closer to her family. She said her hours are flexible so she can help her husband with the business' invoicing, billing, organization and ideas.
Driving by the unique art deco building, built in the 1940s with a curved front, the couple decided they had to have it and kicked around several ideas about how the vacant building could best be used. Mrs. Mroz said they came up with the idea of a repair shop for “things that people normally wouldn't have a place to bring them.”
They opened The Fix Shop in August, and Mroz said he has had a lot of consistent work coming into the shop.
He said business has a vintage style — from its logo and branding, down to the signs painted on the building and what they are doing to fix the interior.
They still have lot of ideas about what The Fix Shop could be, Mrs. Mroz said.
MAKING IT WORK
Mroz said he treats everything in his shop the same.
“No matter what it is … I treat it like it's mine,” he said. “It's mine for a little bit of time. It's got a home here while it's in this place.
A lot of people don't know their item can be repaired because most everything is designed to be replaced, he said, adding that it is cheaper to replace an entire big screen TV than to get it repaired.
Mroz found a broken 1960 record player for $30. After repairing it and doing some research, he estimates that it is worth close to $1,000. He said just about everything was wrong with it, so he would have charged someone about $200 to fix it.
“Back when a lot of these things were made, they were meant to be serviced,” Mroz said, adding that there were repair shops to mend them. Now the only things that really have a place to go to be repaired are vehicles, appliances and computers. “We're unique in the fact that we take things that just kind of get overlooked over time,” he said.
One of his favorite jobs was a 1964 record console a girl brought in that belonged to her mother. He said there were about a dozen things wrong with it and it took him about 10 hours of research and 20 hours to repair it. “I got everything repaired on it and she was so happy about it,” he said. “It was completely restored.”
Whether an item has sentimental or monetary value to a person, once they decide the object is something they want fixed, “we're the place you can bring it to,” Mroz said. “We do so much. … It's hard for people to grasp what we do.”
MR. FIX IT
“Mark has got this brain that if he doesn't know how to repair or fix it, he's going to research it until he figures it out,” Mrs. Mroz said. “So far I don't know that there's anything … that he hasn't been able to fix.”
Mroz said it brings him satisfaction to figure out what is wrong with something and to find the solution.
“I usually fix things that are just above my skill level because I'm constantly learning,” he said. “It's my puzzle. I love figuring things out.”
Mrs. Mroz said they shop around looking for things to repair for themselves and could one day have a selective resale shop of things Mroz has found and fixed.
Mroz has a 1950 Chambers stove, made popular by famous chef Rachael Ray, that he bought for $100, repaired and now uses. He said it is worth about $2,000.
And when he witnessed a business throw a $600 broken printer in the trash, he asked if he could have it, cleaned it up and repaired it to work like new.
Although it may seem The Fix Shop has limited business hours, “I'm here all the time working on stuff,” Mroz said, adding that he can take drop offs just about any time if people call ahead. He plans to grow their business largely through word of mouth, but they also use a lot of social networking.
Mrs. Mroz hopes their shop could someday be the center of a downtown art district. “We love the downtown and we hope to see it revitalized,” she said. “I feel like that is starting in Tyler. ... We hope to see more businesses come in and be things people are drawn to.”