Finding Your Type at the Mesa Typewriter Exchange

Photos by Chelsea Brown
Walking through the aisles of the Mesa Typewriter Exchange is a little surreal. Reports of the last typewriter factory closing down caused quite a drama, but Mesa's Bill Wahl and his stockpile of machines and accessories aren't going anywhere. The little shop on MacDonald in Mesa has been serving the writers and collectors of the now-nostalgic community since 1949. 

Wahl says he started working at the shop part-time while he was still in high school in 1973. His knowledge of typewriters is extensive, and his collection of machines is even more impressive.

Check out what we'd take, what's on our wish list, what we'd pass on and why we'd go back after the jump....

Things we're taking home (pictured above): 

1. Two-tone Smith Corona electric typewriter -- $95
This 1960's electric typewriter comes with its original case, and would look great as décor in a hipster office, but for the price you should get some good use out of it, too.

2. Teal Hermes 3000 typewriter -- $275
This machine is the crème de la crème for typing on. So if you're seriously interested in having a great machine to bang out your next essay paper, or book on, this is it.

3. White and teal Olympia typewriter -- $195
This German built, 1960's machine would look so dainty sitting on a coffee table, ready to type any sweet thoughts that came to mind (or even a grocery list, ya know).

4. Replacement parts and cases -- Prices vary
In the back room of the Mesa Typewriter Exchange, owner Bill Wahl says he has a collection of junked and usable typewriters that he sells off for parts (as he sees suitable, that is). Also, If you're in need of a case for your sweet machine, Wahl says he has a handful of empty cases ready to hold and protect your timeless machine.

5. Ink Ribbons
If you're going to have a typewriter, you're going to need an ink ribbon to make it useable. Depending on the model of typewriter you have, the price varies, but this item is definitely something we need.

Things on our wish list:

1. Green Royal Typewriter

This sweet machine was once owned by John D Rockefeller's grandson, and although it's not for sale, we can still dream of owning a little piece of history.

2. Grey and red Hermes typewriter
Yet again this machine is property of the owner (he says it's his favorite), but it's so hard not to want it.

3. White and blue Voss typewriter
This guy belongs to a customer and was in for repairs, but the sweet plaid case is calling our name.

4. Underwood typewriter
We spotted this guy on our way out, and although we're not sure of the price, we know we need it. Underwood's were like the Cadillacs of typewriters in their time.

We'll pass on...

This busted up typewriter. We heard it was in the shop for repairs, but by the looks of it it's not worth the time to fix. You could stick it up on a shelf though and tell all of your friends it was used by Ernest Hemingway and he threw it at someone in a bar once when he got too drunk and decided his life was just a black abyss.

One reason to go back...

The inventory in the shop seems to be ever changing, so you're bound to always find some new treasure every time you stop in. Plus, the owner is a wiz and is always eager to tell you all he knows about the machine and so much more.

The Mesa Typewriter Exchange is located at 30 S. Macdonald in downtown Mesa, and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 480-964-3603, or visit their Facebook page.

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Chelsea Brown