A Visit to the Vale Typewriter Shop (Minneapolis)
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I wasn’t using any of my three typewriters very much, so I recently decided that it wasn’t just a new ribbon that the two manual typewriters needed, but a good cleaning. I found a shop about 30 minutes away that does typewriter cleaning and repair. (My third typewriter is an Olivetti 900 X, which is electric and works super slick.)
Mark Soderbeck, the owner of Vale Typewriter, started his shop in 1976. He’s one of the last remaining typewriter supply and repair shop in Minnesota. They have no website or social media presence.
Here’s my Voss typewriter (left) which types in script font as described in previous blog posts (here and here). My Wedgefield (right) is a more recent purchase (garage sale) and probably used the least. Mark did a great job and I have been using both of these typewriters for letters and cards recently.
Below are some of the typewriters for sale in his shop the day I was there. He had many more than shown here, as well as many in his backroom that he uses for spare parts.
Mark shared the titles of two excellent documentaries about typewriters that were done in the last few years. They are:
California Typewriter which features Tom Hanks, John Mayer, Sam Shepard and a cast of others. I enjoyed this a lot, especially the soundtrack of the click clacking of the typewriter.
The Typewriter (In the 21st Century), released in 2012, was inspired by this article in Wired Magazine (2010). Director Christopher Lockett and Producer Gary Nicholson wanted to document the vital role of how the typewriter was used in creating 20th century literature. How’s that very definiteness of purpose? Part of their backing came from this Kickstarter campaign in 2011 which I wished I had been a part of. I have this DVD on order to rent from the library.
What type of typewriter do you have? Do you use it?
I’d be as happy as a karate ninja landing a 360 round house kick to my enemies’ face bone if I made my way over to Vale Typewriter. It sounds like a real treasure trove of typewriter goodness!
I lived a couple houses away and Ray Vale was my best friend.
Nice to know about Mark and his typewriter business. I have an electric Smith Corona Correcting Typewriter Mark VI with three print wheels – Script 10/12, Presidential 12, and Tempo 10. I wonder if he has a customer who is looking for such a machine. Over the years, he’s probably acquired a lot of vintage machines and wouldn’t be interested in purchasing it from me unless he had a customer interested. Even so – does he have access to the ribbons for this machine?
Wanted to go today but they are closed. As an avid typewriter collector, I cannot believe I have never been to his shop. I knew about it but shyed away from it as despite me collecting them, I know very little about them and I feel like for how many I have (15 or so) I should know more. I should have figured that the owner would love to talk typewriters and would probably love to teach me a thing or two..I’m going..tomorrow!