Pedro Flores (26 April 1896 - December 1963) was a Filipino businessman and yo-yo maker who has been credited with popularizing Yo-yos in the United States. He patented an innovation to yo-yos that used a loop instead of a knot around the axle, allowing for new tricks such as the ability to "sleep."
Pedro Flores was born in Vintar, Ilocos Norte, Philippines and came to the United States in 1915. 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.
Flores initially made yo-yos for neighborhood children by hand, but soon started buying machinery to produce them more quickly. Approximately a year after Flores opened his yo-yo business, his company was selling 300,000 yo-yos a day. Flores has been credited with popularizing the yo-yo in the U.S., but he never claimed to have invented the yo-yo. Yo-yos were introduced to the Philippines in the 1800s. The word "yóyo" was a Tagalog word that means "come and go" or "come back." Flores is sometimes referred to as the original patent holder of the yo-yo. Although he didn't patent the first yo-yo in the U.S., his patent included the Filipino innovation of using a loop instead of a knot around the axle. This is known as an "unresponsive yo-yo" and allows for additional tricks such as the ability to "sleep." The ability to do tricks was one of the main selling points for Flores' yo-yos, and he created some of the first yo-yo trick competitions. Other types of yo-yos (Bandalores) had already been patented prior to the company's existence.
Flores stayed involved with yo-yos most of his life. He founded a yo-yo manufacturing company in Santa Barbara, California in 1928, founded the Flores Corporation in Hollywood (6301 Sunset Blvd.) and cofounded Flores and Stone in Los Angeles (1938 Hyperion Ave. in Silver Lake) c. 1929. In the 1930s, he promoted yo-yo contests along with Duncan. He cofounded the Chico yo-yo company in 1950 and founded the Flores Corporation of America in 1954.
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.