Phased out: Herb’s TV to close

July 25, 2008
By

DAVID TABER

SOUTH ST.—After 40 years at its 68 South St. location, Herb’s TV Service will close its doors forever Aug. 1. The space will be taken over by McCormack & Scanlan Real Estate, which is currently located on Washington Street.

Except for a stint in the armed forces during World War II, “I have worked steady since 1942,” said Herbert Pratt, the repair shop’s proprietor and namesake. Pratt is a JP resident and the owner of the row of storefronts that includes 68 South.

He got his start repairing radios and transitioned to television repair in Roxbury in the late 1940s as that technology took off. “I have seen it all,” he said.

The home electronics repair shop is being “forced, due to changes in technology and the economy, to throw in the towel,” an employee at the store, who asked to be identified only as Walter, said.

The shop has also repaired and sold stereos, VCRs and video cameras over the years. But new digital technologies—including plasma and liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs—are increasingly complicated and expensive to repair, Walter said.

Pratt said he is in the process of cleaning out the shop’s basement storeroom, and has already sent two truckloads of old TVs, picture tubes and other components to be recycled.

“Younger generations,” Pratt said, are generally less inclined to maintain their appliances.

“Your toaster needs a new cord? Throw it out,” Pratt said.

“At the end of 10 years you’ve spent more money than you would have on a good unit, with repairs,” Walter added.

But, Walter said, technology is advancing much faster than it used to, as well. The tabletop radio remained at the forefront of radio technology for 20 or 30 years, Walter said. “People just don’t expect things to last that long anymore.”

Pratt said he plans to retire after the store closes. He will miss “getting up and going to work every day,” he said.

Walter said he suggested to Pratt that he could get work as a greeter at Wal-Mart.

Pratt, though, said he is not particularly fond of the international mega-store chain. “They would not like my greeting,” he said.

The store also specialized in restoring and repairing antique radios. Walter, who has been working at the shop since 1981, said he would miss that work the most.

”What I will miss is customers running in and leaving smiling, shaking hands all around and saying, ‘Thank you, thank you,’” he said.

Pratt and Walter encouraged their customers to patronize Philips TV & Stereo in Brookline after Herb’s closes.

Walter said he might pick up some hours at the Brookline repair shop.

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