An estimated 15 million umbrellas are tossed away each year in France, but 58-year-old Parisian, Thierry Millet, and his shop, Pep’s Maison, are setting out to repair them.
Tucked away on the colorful Rue Saint-Martin in Paris sits a humble umbrella repair shop painted in the quintessential Paris green and shrouded by potted plants. Above the green door, hovers a bright yellow umbrella and a sign that simply reads: Pep’s. Welcome to one of Paris’ only umbrella repair shops.
Pep’s—a French slang word for umbrellas or “pepin”—repairs 10,000 umbrellas a year. The upstairs of Pep’s Maison is a graveyard of broken umbrellas and replacement parts, but downstairs the shop features rows of finely made umbrellas for sale.
According to Millet, umbrellas date back more than 6,000 years ago to China making the art—and it truly is an art—of repairing them one of the oldest jobs on earth. While Millet’s mission is to counter the wave of discarded umbrellas—many of which are not recycled—his shop is oft-celebrated for its nostalgia of a bygone era instead.
The French government has classified Pep’s Maison as a Living Heritage Company, while the shop itself has started to gain something of a cult following from locals and tourists alike.
At the end of the day, Millet’s hope is to give umbrellas a second life, seeing these everyday objects as something of sentiment. Rather than absentmindedly opting for a cheap umbrella at the local convenience store, Pep’s Maison reminds us all that there is a beauty to be had in our rainy day companions.