Roman Hottgenroth is surrounded by lamps, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners. Computers, smartphones, and TV receivers are piled high on tin shelves behind him. Some washing machines rattles loudly in test mode, only somewhat drowned out by the bass thumping from a hi-fi system that an employee is checking.

The products don’t work properly, and that’s the point. 

Here at Stilbruch, the department store in Hamburg, Germany, run by the city’s sanitation department, only goods that others have thrown away are offered for sale. But before they are sold, they are checked and, if necessary, repaired in Hottgenroth’s 7,500-square-foot workshop. The process is something of a dying art. “Unfortunately, [repair] is no longer intended for most appliances,” says Hottgenroth, Stilbruch’s operations manager. 

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