My grandfather, Webb Elais Esber (W.E. Esber), started in the rug business at the end of his freshman year of college. In order to make money for the next school year, an uncle offered Webb a summer job selling oriental rugs. He did so well in just a few weeks that he was able to go home to prepare for the next school year.


Harvard to WWii

WWII interrupted Webb's senior year of college. After serving in the army, he returned to rugs as a source of income. With the intention of attending law school Webb continued to sell Oriental Rugs. A businessman based in Tyrone invited my grandfather to sell rugs in his furniture store. Tyrone was centrally located to towns that prospered during Pennsylvania's industrial economy tied to iron, lumber, and railroads. 

My grandfather meet and married a local beauty, Elizabeth Cupper and settled in Tyrone to raise his family. It was the days of traveling salesman. At that time salesman arrived in a town to show their wares. My great uncle George was selling linens and my grandfather was selling oriental rugs. My grandfather would bring rugs from NYC to show in different towns.


tyrone and then state college

My grandfather moved into his own store in 1936 in Tyrone and traveled to customers in surrounding states. By The 1960's, the industrial economy of PA started to decline. In 1967, my grandfather moved his store to State College. The Pennsylvania State University buffered the SC economy from the rest of the State's economic troubles. In the 1970s, he starting to direct import rugs from abroad. 


A legacy

When I started working with my grandfather I asked him about his sign. The sign in front of the store simply said, W.E. Esber. I suggested we add Oriental Rugs to the sign. He told me that rug dealer was synonymous with a thief and since he was not a thief he would not add Oriental Rugs to the sign. I persevered and convinced him to add Imported Rugs. At least now new people to town do not have to ask what we sell.

My grandfather liked to sell a few items besides rugs. There was always a box of linens for sale, the chandeliers on the ceiling came from a respected importer, and the best item of all were the Bosendorfer pianos. In the late 80's, my grandfather built an addition to his showroom to stock Austrian Bosendorfer Pianos.

My grandfather worked until he was 95. He was very much in control of his business and life until the day he died. I was able to help him continue his business in his later years and was proud to have worked alongside a man who had so much to teach.