In the US, we tend to embrace a "throw away" culture. If something is aging or broken, we usually go out and replace it with something new, particularly if it is an inexpensive item. I can't deny that I myself have done this, even though I tend to be a bit of a "penny pincher". I loved taking advantage of the Freecycle group during our stay in Virginia. I loved knowing that I was able to save lots of items from the garbage dumps and that things I no longer had use for were going to be appreciated by another member. Here in Skopje, I'm sure that there are many different ways to pass on unwanted items to others as well, allowing for the recycling of unwanted/broken stuff.
Recently, my purse strap broke. I was very disappointed because I really liked this purse. It is just a simple, black bag, but it is just the right size with no gaudy buckles or patterns. I found it at a little shop in the Old Town, just on the edge of the Bit Pazaar. The offerings at most other shops were either too big or too loud for my taste. I appreciated that this shopkeeper made the bags himself and that they were very reasonably priced. I paid only 300 denar...less than $10. I decided to return to this little shop in search of a similar bag.
I arrived at the shop and was greeted by the gentleman, who speaks very little English but manages to communicate just fine. His father was tucked away in a corner, urging me to close the door so that the heat would not escape. I glanced around while the keeper offered suggestions. I told him I was looking for a small bag and showed him the damaged purse, as a reference to the size I was seeking. He took the bag and through hand-motions indicated that he could fix it. He quickly sewed the strap back into place and even stitched the other side as a precaution. He asked (again through non-verbal clues)if this was his handy work. When I said yes, and that I liked it very much and was thrilled that he was able to fix it, he was delighted. He refused to accept any money for his repair work, but I was insistent. He finally agreed to accept just 20 denars, roughly 50 cents. I left another 80 and he told him he must take it. I left feeling so satisfied to have my purse good as new and so pleased to have chosen this shopkeeper, who obviously takes great pride in his work. I will happily return to him again in the future. I am so glad I didn't just throw this purse away and pick up a new one. Who knows how long I might be able to save it from a landfill...lol!