Need a hand?
Fairmont business, Curiosity Clockworks, repairs, sells clocks
Though reminders of time’s perpetual march forward tick away in Curiosity Clockworks, the atmosphere in the Fairmont business — with its high tin ceilings and wooden floors, bisected by an expansive antique desk the separates the clocks for sale from those being repaired — is that of a bygone era.
Longtime friends and co-owners Greg Carruba and Carl Witt spent roughly a year cultivating that feel, which was no easy task.
“We started looking around for businesses in the Fairmont, Morgantown Clarksburg area and we walked past it several times, and I said there is no way,” Witt said. “I mean it was really rough, totally rough. And so we talked ourselves into it.
“I wanted to kind of keep the building at the year it was built, like in the ’20s or early teens and not modernize it, because the clocks, some are from the 1890s from the 1830s. And I think if you get that feeling walking in the door.”
After all, it’s not just the clocks that sit on the floors and line the walls that harken back to a different time. As both Carruba and Witt point out, the business of clock repair itself is becoming a thing of the past.
“It’s a dying trade,” Carruba said.
But that doesn’t mean the demand isn’t there.
After apprenticing for three years with Mount Morris, Pa., resident Charles Decker — who worked on clocks for more than five decades — Witt ventured off on his own, working from his basement.
But it didn’t take long before the space became crowded, so the former welder built a workshop by his house, which too filled up. Then, about four months ago, Curiosity Clockworks opened its doors and Witt was flooded with jobs.
“When we first opened, it was a little overwhelming,” Carubba said. “At one point there were 70-some clocks in here to be worked on. Now, we’re kind of caught up.”
Customers came, not just from Fairmont, Clarksburg and Morgantown, but also Elkins, Mount Morris and Washington, Pa.
“It’s amazing how many people have passed the word on and other people have come,” Carubba said. “Because there’s just not a lot of places that still do it.”
Cost to fix a grandfather clock is $125, and perhaps a little more, depending on how far away a customer’s home is.
“If it’s really far, I have to charge a little for gas,” said Witt, since he takes the clock’s inner-working from the house to the shop. “But I service them, and it usually takes a month to a month and a half to clean and oil them and let them run in the racks. And I take them back and set them back up.”
Cost to repair wall and mantle clocks is $75.
“Charles, one thing he really stressed was never out-price yourself on selling them and repairing them,” Witt said. “And if the customer’s not happy, give them their money back.
“I try to keep my prices as low as I can. ... That’s one thing I do pride myself on is to being honest with the customer.”
Carruba and Witt understand that, often, the clocks are not just functional items, but sentimental ones as well.
“It’s rewarding too to see something that someone has said, ‘This was my grandfather’s. It’s been sitting on a shelf for 40 years and all the sudden now it’s alive again,’ ” Carruba said. “And they’re like,‘I remember that when I was a kid, it used to tick and chime and I can’t believe it’s working again.’ It’s just very rewarding to see the smile on someone’s face.”