Have you ever strolled along the 400 block of South Fairfax, and stopped short in front of the spread of three storefront windows which look circa 1950? What are these life-size cut-outs of repairmen doing in the window? And are those the same guys in back, in black tie?
I ducked inside the front door on Friday to learn the story behind one of my favorite storefront windows in Los Angeles: the E L Payne Company.
This is a family-run business servicing and selling heating and air conditioning to the greater Wilshire and Beverly Hills areas since 1914. Currently run by the grandchildren of the founder, brother-sister team Daniel and Caitlin Payne kept the concept their father initiated back when he ran the company, to “better the image of your average blue collar technician.” Putting their loyal HVAC workers in tuxes and shooting giant B&W portraits of them certainly does the job. These guys clean up real fine!
The Payne duo also explained they feel their windows give back to the community in some small way, by putting a friendly face ( in this case – many!) at street level for people to enjoy. And these windows are both artistic and retro in a way that does liven up the block. Meanwhile, on the street, you can find the Payne crews driving around in iconic Payne mobiles. Not your usual white panel van, these bright orange Scions can hardly be missed! The car “pod” carriers on top store pipes and large equipment. These guys give us both the past and the future in their style, and it sure is fun!
About Julie Grist
Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.