Hanoi Street Where Dead Appliances Come Back to Life

For decades, Tran Quy Cap Street has been synonymous with appliance repair in Hanoi. Here, skilled repairers, often hailed as "magicians," possess an uncanny ability to breathe new life into cherished household gadgets.

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Tran Quy Cap Street in Hanoi‘s Dong Da District is home to a myriad of repair and maintenance shops for household appliances. Some specialize in pumps of all types, while others focus on rice mills, meat grinders, and so forth. A loyal clientele frequents the majority of these establishments.

 Tran Quy Cap Street in Hanoi’s Dong Da District is a narrow but bustling thoroughfare. Photos: Vu Toan/Dan Tri

Trinh Minh Tu, a Dong Da District resident, brought two blenders suffering from short circuits to the street for repair. “The repairmen here are highly experienced in fixing household appliances. People often quip that they can magically repair anything in your home,” he remarked.

Not only residents of the neighborhood but also individuals from other areas seek out the street for its repair services. As a result, these workers have scant time to rest.

“Depending on the season, certain items are in greater demand for repair. Water heaters and electric kettles in winter, air conditioners – hot and cold water dispensers in summer, and rice cookers, induction cookers, or ultra-fast cookers all year round. The work may seem simple, but it requires meticulous attention to detail. Each workshop has a lead mechanic who specializes in repairing complex components. “The rest perform simpler tasks such as cleaning and polishing,” explains a worker on the street.

 The street is a hub for skilled home appliance repairmen in Hanoi.

In addition to repairing home appliances, the shops also purchase old, broken appliances, refurbish them, and resell them, according to their owners. Recently, second-hand air purifiers, tumble dryers, and washing machines have been in high demand due to Hanoi’s humid climate.

“Our work is year-round and never-ending. Most of the breakdowns are caused by short circuits or worn buttons. Such issues necessitate component replacement. Many customers who don’t want to have them repaired bring them here and sell them to us at prices slightly higher than scrap metal. Subsequently, I repair, polish, and resell them,” explained another repair business owner on Tran Quy Cap Street.

The majority of repairmen on the street are male, but a few women handle sales and order taking. However, there is also a woman who meticulously brushes black stains from the surface of a used water heater. After cleaning and polishing, the item appears brand new.

 Foreign visitors to Hanoi are amazed by the ingenuity of the amateur mechanics working on Hanoi’s streets.

Nguyen Thi Duoc has been repairing appliances on Tran Quy Cap Street for three decades. “My body used to ache at first. However, after doing it for an extended period, I became accustomed to it and the work became routine,” she said.

“Anything can be fixed here, but water heaters and rice cookers are the most common repairs. When I retired, I started working here immediately. Since I’ve been doing this job for nearly 30 years, there is no type of household appliance that I haven’t repaired. Many people bring their old and broken appliances here to sell. After replacing parts and repainting, we resell them for a quarter of the price of new ones,” the veteran adds.

Andrey, a street photographer from Portugal, visited Tran Quy Cap Street because of his interest in these repair shops in Hanoi. “This street offers a wealth of photographic material. The stories of the repairmen here are captivating. Their work embodies the rhythm of life in Hanoi. This street also reminds me of the sights I witnessed in India,” said Andrey.

Numerous appliance repair shops line this narrow street in downtown Hanoi.  

Tran Quy Cap Street is a short street adjacent to Hanoi Railway Station, approximately 300 meters from the city center. It is located in the Van Mieu and Van Chuong wards of Dong Da district, and stretches for 700 meters with a width of 5-8 meters. It also serves as the North Gate of the railway station, where trains depart for the country’s northern provinces. The street is surrounded by major roads such as Le Duan, Kham Thien, Hai Ba Trung, Nguyen Khuyen, and Quoc Tu Giam.

Tran Quy Cap Street is typically bustling with commercial activity. Household appliances, clothing, backpacks, and wallets are the primary businesses here. There are also motels, hotels, and restaurants that cater to train passengers. A number of offices and factories are located at the far end of the street, near Trung Tien Alley.