Until about six months ago, 501 Waller was an empty storefront — or at least so it seemed.
Aside from some modest signage, the corner space at Waller and Steiner, with its blacked-out windows and rarely-open entrance, gave no indication of what might be contained within.
Today, the doors are wide open, revealing the wondrous world of curiosities inside.
Hundreds of shelves filled with every bolt and bit you can imagine. Tall lamps fashioned from wind instruments. A three-legged chair turned upside-down. A taxidermied pheasant.
What exactly is this place?
For the past 12 years, the address has been home to Clipper Construction, a contracting company owned and operated by Mathieu Palmer. Clipper’s typical roster of projects includes jobs like interior and exterior remodeling, door and window replacements, and dry rot damage repair.
The Waller Street storefront served mostly as a storage space for Clipper — that is until January of this year, when Mat decided the shop was being underutilized. Mat hired Dan Daniel, a local film and camera buff who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years, to run a repair business. And thus, Clipper Repair was born.
Clipper Repair specializes in bench work: you bring in a broken item, and leave with it fixed.
“It” can be just about anything — from broken furniture to cameras to heaters.
The average repair, such as electrical work on a broken lamp, will run you somewhere from $25 to $50 dollars.
“We want to help people fix what is broken so they don’t need to buy more stuff,” Mat says.
The shop’s location is ideal for Mat, who has worked in the neighborhood for 27 years. “Lower Haight is in the middle of it all,” he says. “It has a community atmosphere that a lot of San Francisco lacks and that is why we wanted to open the store up. San Francisco has also lost a lot of neighborhood stores, and we wanted to bring that back as well.”
Mat has found another community-friendly purpose for the shop — using its window space to display the works of local artists. Passersby who catch themselves admiring a photograph or painting in Clipper’s window are encouraged to pop in to inquire about the art.
Mat’s long-term goal is to run a retail store selling refurbished furniture. As Dan puts it, “if we can stop people from going to Ikea we’ve done our job!”
For now, though, they’re happy to be making the neighborhood a less broken place, one item at a time.
Clipper Repair is open Tuesday thru Thursday from 4pm to 7pm, and Saturday from 9am to noon. For more information, call (415) 621-4733 or visit clipper-construction.com.