Emil J Paidar Barber Chairs: A Brief History

The Emil J. Paidar Company has been making barber chairs since the 1900’s. The Chicago-based company is one of two major domestic barber supply manufacturers in the United States during that time period. The other one is Koken Barber’s Supply Company with headquarters in St. Louis Missouri. Paidar provided a bunch of other barber supplies as well, including barber poles, mirror cases, wall fixtures, work cabinets, manicure tables, shoe shining stands and coat racks.

As the name suggests, it was founded by Emil J. Paidar. According to records, Emil died on May 7, 1950 due to a car accident. He was supposed to go to his summer home on Little Traverse bay when the incident happened. Mr. Paidar was 74.

The company had some interesting barber shop equipment in their catalog. One in particular was its Duo-Hydraulic Barber’s Chair product line which was tagged as “The Chair With The Longer Life.” It is actually a variation of the hydraulic Koken chairs with distinct improvements. Koken pioneered the hydraulic lift technology in barber chairs which it patented in 1892.

The Great Depression in the 1930’s was very challenging for the barber supply business in the United States. Despite the orders dwindling, the top two companies were still going head to head, vying for customer loyalty and the most number of chairs sold. Several financing schemes were advertised to make ordering in bulk fast and convenient. Furthermore, diversification became a necessity to stay alive. During the Second World War, demand for barber equipment sky rocketed not because the army needed haircuts- but because orders for tool chests and cartridge cases increased.

In 1957, a new competitor entered the domestic market. Japan-based Takara Company sold barber chairs in the US which they branded as Belmont. They were affordable and highly styled at the same time. They were really spinoffs of Emil J. Paidar barber chairs that were being priced at discounted prices. Dealers couldn’t help but switch to the newcomer which had a more modern look. Eventually, this prompted Koken and Paidar to appeal to the government to increase the import levy on Belmont barber chairs, as it was originally from Japan. However, the appeal wasn’t entirely granted, and Koken was ultimately purchased by the now called, Takara Belmont Company. As a result of the acquisition, Paidar was overtaken as the leading manufacturer of barber’s supply and equipment in the US.

Emil J. Paidar barber chairs are now considered vintage and are considerably priced in auction sites.

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