WEBS - America's Yarn Store is located in the picturesque Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. A second-generation, family-owned business, WEBS has been the destination for knitters, weavers and spinners for over 40 years.
WEBS was founded in 1974 by Barbara Elkins and her then business partner Donna Muller and was solely focused on teaching weaving and renting looms. The business was initially located in Barbara's basement. After eight years, Donna sold her share of the business to Barbara.
In 1984, WEBS moved out of the Elkins' basement and to its first storefront on Main Street in Amherst. WEBS moved again, only three years later, to a larger Victorian House on Kellogg Ave in Amherst. During those years of growth, Barbara added knitting yarns, WEBS' permanent weaving lines, and hired Art full-time into the business upon his retirement as a professor at UMASS. Together they discovered mail order and sent out the company's first set of "samples". Customer orders soon followed.
When they purchased the Kellog Ave location, they were convinced it was big enough to sustain the business for 10 years of growth. It barely made it three years before Art and Barbara were once again looking for a larger space. This next move proved more difficult.
After exhausting every possibility in Amherst and the surrounding towns, Barbara & Art decided to give Northampton a try. They discovered a 21,000 square foot building that had been a garage for the telephone company–now you know why there are yellow lines in the warehouse! Art was thrilled, and Barbara was horrified. How could this awful space become the next WEBS? Art convinced Barbara that the space and location were right, and they signed the lease. In early 1992, WEBS moved to Northampton, where the business is still located.
In the late '90s, Art & Barbara started thinking about retirement. The business was for sale to the right buyer. In 1999 a deal with an associate fell through, and then in 2001 another buyer came on the scene.
They had always hoped that Steve and I would eventually take over the business. They had asked a few times in the past, but we always turned them down. Luckily for us they gave us one more chance before accepting the buyer's offer. It took a little arm-twisting to convince Steve, but with three against one, he didn't have much of a chance! In the spring of 2002, Steve and I took over day to day operations of WEBS.
It was quite intimidating to take on a business that Art and Barbara had grown from nothing into one of the premiere yarn stores in the country. Steve and I have worked hard to continue the tradition of exceptional customer service, superior selection, and outstanding value.
Customers can always find out what the latest happenings are by checking out our blog, becoming a fan of our Facebook page, following us on Twitter, or by listening to our podcast, Ready, Set, Knit! It can be found right here on our website or on iTunes!
- Kathy Elkins, Owner/VP Marketing
Watch this video to get an inside look at the history of WEBS with Barbara, Art, Steve, and Kathy!