ST. PETE — For many, fixing an old clock radio could be considered a lost cause, but not for Richard Gardiner, it’s a passion.
“There is no sound, it’s the volume control, I’m going to take it apart, I’m going to squirt it with contact cleaner and its going to work fine,” said Gardiner, as he sits on a stool hovering over his work bench in the back of the Suncoast Hospice Resale Shoppe in St. Pete.
Gardiner spent his career making repairs for the telephone company, so when he retired he needed to find a new outlet. That’s when he decided to volunteer with Suncoast Hospice Resale Shoppe.
“Anything that is electronic he goes through, thoroughly tests, to make sure those items get put out on our floor that are actually working,” said supervisor Joan Spies.
Gardiner said what’s so rewarding, is he knows every item he’s able to salvage, will generate money for a great cause.
“I had a 1927 singer sewing machine that didn’t work and I fixed and we sold it,” said Gardiner.
One-hundred percent of the revenue goes right back to serving the families of Suncoast Hospice. Gardiner’s store alone averages $45,000 a month. They have a total of three resale shops.
“When I came here I had no idea what a hospice even was. It used to be driven by the approval of seniors where I worked but now its driven by my own happiness,” said Gardiner.
“Technically these stores would not exist without those volunteers and their abilities, they are the most dedicated people to jobs and job services that I have ever seen in my life,” said Spies.
Gardiner said out of all the machines he’s tinkered with in his life, one stands out above all the rest.
“When I met my wife, her dishwasher didn’t work, and I fixed it and she told her friends who were all lawyers and doctors and they were jealous,” said Gardiner, who said he feels like he has a sixth sense when it comes to fixing things and he’s not afraid to admit it.