The chair repair shop that runs everywhere in Saigon

By Quynh Tran   August 12, 2017 | 12:31 am PT
The 50-year-old man brings the chair repair service to your doorstep on a motorbike rickshaw.

Nguyen Manh Tuan brings his shop to the streets every day. He has been doing it for 20 years.


The man from the northern city of Hai Phong moved to Ho Chi Minh City in 1985 where he served in the military. His unit then sent him to Taiwan to learn to fix swivel chairs, which has been his job since he came back in 1997.


Initially, he rode his old motorbike around looking for customers. “The first years were difficult because the chair was not popular in Vietnam yet,” he said. When the business started to pick up, he bought the rickshaw to carry more tools.


To date, he is confident that his portable repair service is still the only one in town. He said he has taught the craft to several people but they all quit after some time.


His working day usually starts at noon, after receiving orders via phone calls. He would spend the morning mapping out the most convenient journey for the day and preparing tools.


“I choose a portable service because most people are uncomfortable bringing a broken chair to a shop,” Tuan said.


His prices vary from several to dozens of dollars. One time he received as much as VND1 million ($44) for one chair.


From replacing screws to giving new leather coverage, he spends up to an hour with each chair.


“This job demands one to be both handy and physically strong,” he proudly said.


He also picks up broken chairs dumped on the street, then repairs them for sale.


Tuan enjoys his own chair in his rented room in Go Vap District, where he lives with his wife and their three children.

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