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A Keeper

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I came dangerously close to tossing out a perfectly good vacuum cleaner the other day. I was burning through one of my frantic Saturday afternoon cleaning sessions, attacking sagebrush-sized dust bunnies in the master bedroom, when the sucker simply stopped sucking.

I ponied up $80 for the thing about a year ago, so I figured I got what a paid for—14 months of flawless performance, followed by an abrupt breakdown and subsequent repair bound to cost more than the original purchase price. Such is the norm in our disposal culture—right?

I was on my way to the trash can when I suddenly had a change of heart. Inspired by the “Repair, Don’t Replace” theme of this month’s cover story, I threw what I’d assumed was a dust-caked plastic carcass into the car, and I headed off on Monday morning with a decisive plan of action: Call a repair shop for confirmation that the prognosis was hopeless, heave the thing into the dumpster at work, and buy a replacement at Lowe’s on the way home.

“Sounds like a clog to me,” said Anita Moore, an eight-year employee of Brenda’s Vac Shop (brendasvacshop.com), when I called with my problem.

She wasn’t convinced that the damage to my machine was irreversible—if there was even any damage to begin with. Moore should know. Brenda’s has been offering accessories and repairs (typically $34.95, plus parts) for more than 60 years. “We’re honest with our customers,” says Moore. “We let them know if it’s going to cost more to repair than what they paid for it.”

If that’s the case, the good folks at Brenda’s would be happy to steer you toward an affordable replacement from the selection of new and rebuilt vacuums in their West Chester and Thorndale stores.

As for my predicament, Moore was spot-on. Once I exhumed all the dust from the filter and hoses, the vacuum was as good as new. But when I do need a new machine, I know where to go.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:
Ask for an informed opinion from venerable KYW Newsradio veteran Don Lancer, and you’re likely to get that and more. In an interview with senior writer J.F. Pirro, the recently retired on-air financial expert offers his no-nonsense tips for surviving the recession as part of our “Damage Control” money-management feature. He sums up our current economic woes this way: “You probably feel your financial life slipping through your fingers. You can panic, but … Psssst! It’s a little late.”

It’s hard to believe it’s already baseball season. And just in time for opening day, Pirro tracked down Phillies pitcher and World Series MVP Cole Hamels, who offers honest answers to some tough questions, proving he’s no choke artist. Check out an expanded version of the interview here.
 

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