Plumbing business launches online fundraiser to minimize relocation costs

Isabella Ko/Staff

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The Sink Factory, a longstanding Berkeley plumbing business, has created a GoFundMe page to raise money to relocate before its current location is demolished.

The Sink Factory is the only plumbing store in the Bay Area that provides specialized parts and services for older and antique plumbing, according to owner Ragnar Boresen. He added that The Sink Factory caters to customers who want to maintain old plumbing fixtures rather than replace them with newer models.

“We want to buy new, better equipment, we want to get state of the art lathes, we want to put in a 3D printer,” Boresen said. “We have to keep up with the times.”

Boresen aims to relocate the store by March, well before the demolition early next year, and the funds from the campaign will be used to help cover the high costs of moving and new machinery.

When it was founded in 1979, The Sink Factory was only a factory that made sinks. Boresen explained, however, that the rise of large plumbing brands in the 1980s caused the store to switch over to selling specialty plumbing parts and fixtures, rather than producing them.

“The face of retail is really changing a lot with the age of the internet,” Boresen said. “I always tell people, what Uber does to taxi companies, that’s what Craigslist does to us. … But I’m not giving up, we just need to adapt.”

Boresen added that The Sink Factory is having to adapt to changing conditions again. According to Boresen,  people can easily buy cheap used plumbing fixtures online through services like Craigslist, which has decreased The Sink Factory’s sales of salvaged antique plumbing.

The key to old stores trying to adapt to the new retail environment is finding a niche and catering to customers who couldn’t get the same service elsewhere, according to Boresen.

“Old plumbing is designed to last for more than 100 years, if serviced properly,” Boresen said. “People who like old plumbing and want to keep it alive have fewer and fewer places to go.”

Contact Alexandra Feldman at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @a_p_feldman.