WEBS yarn store sold to London company; former owners to run Northampton biz

  • Kathy and Steve Elkins, former longtime owners of WEBS America’s Yarn Store, who will still be running the business, talk Thursday about the changes at the company. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Yarn at WEBS America’s Yarn Store, in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • In this photo taken in March 1992, Arthur and Barbara Elkins sit on a cardboard box in the middle of their store, WEBS, on Kellogg Avenue in Amherst. The 18-year-old business is moved to a bigger location in Northampton. STAFF FILE PHOTO/YANA DLUGY

  • Chris Spinozzi, an employee at WEBS America’s Yarn Store, helps Amy Stein decide on yarn and patterns Thursday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Yarn at WEBS in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Chris Spinozzi, an employee at WEBS America’s Yarn Store, helps Amy Stein decide on yarn and patterns Thursday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/24/2021 1:08:10 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Yarn store WEBS, which has been locally owned for more than 45 years, has been bought by an international company, LoveCrafts. 

Former owners Kathy and Steve Elkins said that WEBS will stay the same for customers. 

“They should expect to see little to no changes," Steve Elkins said while sitting in the WEBS office at a table full of yarn on Thursday.

“Everyone is staying employed,” Kathy Elkins said. “We are super excited about the partnership.”

WEBS markets itself as “America’s Yarn Store,” and the massive shop at 75 Service Center Road and its website are destinations for knitters, crocheters, weavers and fiber artists. The cardigan Tom Hanks wore while playing Mister Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” for example, was made by a New Jersey knitter with yarn from WEBS. 

Negotiations started before the pandemic and the deal was finalized in late December, Steve Elkins said. “We’ve had a lot of time to think about it,” he said

“We are incredibly excited to be working with such talented people who have deep knowledge of the craft sector in the US,” Edward Griffith, CEO of LoveCrafts, said in a statement. “Our partnership will allow us to provide experiences for the making community.”

LoveCrafts is an online business headquartered in London that sells supplies for crafts like sewing, quilting, embroidery, knitting and crocheting. 

“There are lots of things we can learn from them, and there are lots of things they can learn from us,” Steve Elkins said of LoveCrafts. 

Kathy and Steve Elkins, who live in South Deerfield, will continue to run WEBS and are taking on the role of Chief Global Yarn Officers at LoveCrafts. That’s a job that includes selecting yarns and deciding what colors to buy and what to call them. “All of that is really fun,” Steve Elkins said.

Steve Elkin’s mother, Barbara Elkins, started the business in 1974 out of the basement of her Amherst home, and its brick and mortar location has been in Northampton since 1992. 

Kathy and Steve Elkins took over the business in 2002. In addition to the Northampton storefront, the business also has a warehouse in Easthampton. 

Why they decided to sell is “a complicated question,” Kathy Elkins said.

The couple has owned the business for 18 years, and it’s been a “24/7” job, Steve Elkins said.

“When you own the company it never stops,” Kathy Elkins said, recalling a time when she and Steve Elkins brokered a deal at Disney World when their kids were young. 

During the pandemic, the Northampton storefront closed in March and reopened in June, while their website remained open for orders. They have seen “massive growth”  during the pandemic, Steve Elkins said.

Some picked up knitting again, others learned the new skill and some were trying to stay busy, Kathy Elkins said. “The knitters kept knitting.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com. 
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