[MGSA-L] The Last Chairmaker of Komotini

June Samaras june.samaras at gmail.com
Mon Apr 14 15:23:55 PDT 2014

The Last Chairmaker of Komotini


Abed Alloush - Apr 13, 2014

“Bring out your old chairs, folks… here comes the chairbler!”

Such is the cry of Hussein Ismet, the last chair-maker of Komotini in
northern Greece, as he trawls the town street by street seeking nothing
more than to ply his trade of his forebears. The locals hear him coming
from blocks away.

He learned the craft from his father, who in turn learned it from his
grandfather – a family business if ever there was. For as long as he can
remember, Hussein has wandered around on his tricycle-cum-workshop in
search of seating in need of repair.

After countless years on the mend, as it were, just a cursory glance is all
Hussein needs to determine whether a chair is worth fixing, and when it is,
to give an immediate estimate of how long it will take to fix, which is
really all the client is paying for.

On a good day, he can make four or five chairs as good as new, but other
days he cannot find a single chair to repair. “There are always bad days at
the office” Hussein says.

“Thank God for the cafeterias,” he exclaims, where he can find a
satisfactory day’s pay – 10 to 15 euros. Hussein’s labour might seem cheap,
but his costs are even lower – the raw materials he needs are harvested
from reed plants growing freely in the Evros river delta.

Despite the shortage of shredded seats to service, and the wider problems
besetting Greece, Hussein remains positive. He praises God and proudly
declares (again) that he is the last chairbler, of Rodopi Street, Komotini.

He smokes one last cigarette before hopping back on the three-wheeler, back
on the hunt for any old chairs in need of a craftsman’s touch, bellowing
his familiar catchphrase: “Here comes the chairbler … bring out yer chairs,

- See more at:

June Samaras
2020 Old Station Rd
Canada L5M 2V1
Tel : 905-542-1877
E-mail : june.samaras at gmail.com
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