Papy radio is resisting: in Clermont-Ferrand, a young entrepreneur gives a boost to old jobs thanks to new technologies, and sells them to Asia.
Dressed in wood or bakelite, the TSF from the 30s to the 60s often take dust in the attics, when they do not end up in the dump. But Arthur Verne bought them at flea markets, fairs and on the internet since he founded the company “A.bsolument Vintage Radios” in 2015 after transforming an old family post into a wireless speaker.
When his father offers him the camera in 2011, he refuses it at first because he takes up too much space in his apartment for “a simple object of decoration”. But after a little DIY, “magic! I could listen to my playlist on the radio of my grandfather,” recalls the Clermont of 26 years.
He leaves his work in the event to embark on the adventure.
“We do not destroy the interior of the radio, which keeps all its value.The only old component that we remove is the speaker.It carefully integrates, in the remaining space, an analog amplifier, a new potentiometer and a Bluetooth card to be able to connect his smartphone “, explains the entrepreneur.
And the acoustics in all this? “Every modernized radio keeps a + vintage sound + and allows you to listen to all the modern music, but the bigger the sound box, the better the sound”, stresses this jazz and classical music lover.
On the aesthetic side, radios, in Art Deco style for the most dated, are cleaned and glossed. They can even be entrusted to a cabinetmaker on request to restore their former glory, “even if most customers prefer them with the scars of the past”.
– ‘No scheduled obsolescence’ –
His heart target: a city clientele between 25 and 40 years but also the individual who wants to retype the family object. Today he sells fifty a month, from 400 to 1,000 euros each.
“Unlike a modern radio, there is no obsolescence programmed.This radio will be there in another 20, 30 years and can still evolve with the technologies of tomorrow.We can maintain and bequeath to his children” says Clermont, which subcontracts part of the activity to Activ’Adis, an establishment that employs employees with disabilities, which it pays about 20% of the price.
Boning, welding, assembling the various components is the job of Sylvain Mahé, a former orthopedic surgeon who had to change jobs after a road accident. “Every radio is a new puzzle that has to be solved, it’s a very stimulating job with lots of surprises, cobwebs, mouse droppings …”, the technician laughs as he prepares with dexterity an order for Hong-Kong.
Because besides the “corners” of Parisian department stores and the twenty or so boutiques in France presenting the products, the company is working more and more with Asia (China, South Korea, Japan).
“There is a craze there for old radios, seen as a symbolic object of French heritage that refers to the coded messages of the Second World War and old songs,” says Arthur Verne.
A niche market that does not seem to be running out: “It is estimated that 9 families out of 10 in France have a TSF.There is still matter,” he said.