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Old-school tool makes comeback

Typewriters becoming popular again while repair shops are harder to find

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In these days of computers and iPads, an old way of communicating appears to be making a comeback.  Typewriters are becoming popular again. With both millennials and young girls particularly interested in the vintage typing machines.

News4Jax stopped by McDavid Typewriter Service in Murray Hill. Bill Pridgen has been running the store since around 1970 and still is repairing typewriters today.

"You've got people that just use typewriters that have been my customers for 30 or 40 years," Pridgen said.

Pridgen said the wave of interest in vintage typewriters is real, particularly with young girls. He said around Christmas time he'll sell a lot.

"Especially young girls are wanting them for like these portables, especially at Christmas time you sell 10, 15, 20," he told News4Jax.

Pridgen said if a vintage typewriter is found in brighter colors, it sells especially well.

But it's not just younger girls who are interested in typewriters. There are a lot of professionals who still use them, including lawyers for filling out forms that are difficult to do on a computer.

News4Jax also found a pharmacist who uses an old manual typewriter regularly: Gilbert Weise at Weise Prescription Shop.

"Because I can save money and time.  And then those of you out there that are so computer oriented, when power goes out and everything stops, I don't; I can keep on going," he said.

Gabby Aldrich, 12, who lives in Tallahassee, just got her first typewriter from Pridgen.

"When I'm older I want to be an editor and also because it's a real unique item that no one has these days," she said.

Gabby's dad said she has been asking for the typewriter for many years.

"About five years ago she said, 'I want a manual typewriter,' and I'm looking at her, she's like seven, and it's pretty interesting when your kid comes to you and you realize all the things it doesn't have," Matt Aldrich said.

But typewriter users may have a problem getting ink for their typewriters. Pridgen is 79 years old and said he'll continue selling and repairing typewriters as long as he can.

But he also said many of the typewriter repairmen he's known over the years have passed away, and he honestly doesn't know of any others still doing it. He said it's impossible to make a living at it.

However, you can still find some options online with a quick Google search for either typewriter supplies or typewriter repairs.

Pridgen's store, McDavid Typewriter Repair, is at 4304 Plymouth St. in Jacksonville.


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