Tech Dump (now Repowered), a certified non-profit electronics recycler, along with its retail division, Tech Discounts, advocates used purchases over new, especially when it comes to refurbished electronics. “Things that come through here have a lot of life left in them,” says Theresa Purcell, sales and marketing manager. “We fix them up better than they came to us.”
Purcell says electronic waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world, which is a major reason to try to divert that waste rather than contributing to it by constantly putting new electronics into circulation. “Older electronics are going to absolutely fit the needs that most people have. Playing into that is also the fact that refurbished computers end up being more reliable in some ways. They go through more rigorous testing, and a lot of them come with better warranties than you’ll find with a new machine,” she says.
The need for affordable computers and peripherals has become very apparent under quarantine, Purcell says. “It used to be you could get by with one or two screens. Now people have to buy extra screens for every space in their household.” At Tech Discounts, refurbished tech can be 70 percent less expensive than buying new, and all computers come with a one-year warranty that can be extended to two years, which Purcell says is generally unheard of when it comes to used electronics. “We trust what we do. We can replace or repair it if it doesn’t work out. We want to provide people with technology that is going to work for them.”
People tend to find out about Tech Discounts through word of mouth, and there are a lot of repeat customers, Purcell says. “People either tell all of their friends about us or keep us as a secret for themselves and won’t tell anyone. They come four times a month and buy a lot of things from us – they’re frequently rebuilders and tinkerers themselves.”
Tech Dump, which opened in summer 2011 (Tech Discounts in 2016), is also a social enterprise that trains and employs adults facing barriers to employment such as previous incarceration or addiction. Purcell offers a metaphor: “All things, and all people, have value. Even things that come to us not in their pristine shape, not in their ‘best condition,’ can contribute a lot to people’s lives.”
She continues, “building on our mission over the past year, we’ve been looking more introspectively. We’re looking more actively at anti-racism, how our vision and mission reflect those values internally and with our customers. We’re trying to make sure that message and those values carry through all the work that we do.”
A part of Hennepin County’s Choose to Reuse program, Join the Circle encourages residents to buy used goods rather than new – not only to reduce waste and preserve natural resources, but to save money. By joining the circle, residents receive useful tips, as well as exclusive benefits at participating retailers. You can learn more and Join the Circle today.