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Pedro Flores is widely considered as the first yo-yo maker in the US and with his Flores yo-yo created the start of an international craze.
Pedro Flores was born in Vintar, Ilocos Norte, Philippines and came to the United States in 1915. Between 1919 and 1920 he attended the High School of Commerce in San Francisco 1919-1920 and subsequently studied law at University of California, Berkeley and the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. Flores dropped out of school and moved to Santa Barbara, California where he worked at odd-jobs to make a living.
While working as a bellboy, Flores read an article about a self-made millionaire who made his money by selling a ball attached to a rubber band. At this point he remembered the yo-yo (previously known as the bandalore), a game which has been played for hundreds of years in the Philippines. Bringing it all together, Flores saw a good market opportunity in the US, and the ability to go into business for himself.
Between 1928 and 1932, Flores started and ran the Yo-yo Manufacturing Company in Santa Barbara before selling the company and trademark to Duncan who continued to market and sell Flores yo-yos alongside the Duncan line.
Pedro Flores is most-often described as the inventor of the yo-yo, but he never personally claimed to have invented the yo-yo, always mentioning its past history as a centuries old Philippine game. In addition he is also referred to as the original patent holder of the yo-yo, however yo-yos (Bandalores) had already been patented prior to the company's existence.
Between 1930 and 1932, Flores sold his interest in his yo-yo manufacturing companies for greater than $250,000, to Donald F. Duncan, Sr., which during the depression of the 1930s was a fortune. On this transaction Flores was quoted saying "I am more interested in teaching children to use the yo-yos than I am in manufacturing of yo-yos."]]
Taking his own words to heart, he became one of the key promoters in Duncan's early yo-yo campaigns. During 1931-1932, Flores was instrumental in setting up a large number of the promotions in the cities where the early Duncan contests were being held. In relation to his contests run just 2 years earlier with his Yo-yo Manufacturing Company, the new Duncan contests were vastly different. These contests now required a series of tricks similar to modern day contests with ties being broken by the number of loop the loops completed.
Flores stayed involved with yo-yos most of his life. After leaving Duncan in the 1930s, he set up the Bandalore Company which briefly made the Bandalore Yo-Yo. Later, after WWII, he helped Joe Radovan (a fellow Philippine immigrant) in the establishment of the Chico Yo-yo Company. In 1954, he also started the Flores Corp. of America, which briefly produced yo-yos in the 1950s.