The Short History of Yeager’s
In 1921, Ira Yeager was in the furniture business, but being an avid outdoorsman, he decided to make a change and contacted the Evinrude Company and was given a dealership to sell their outboard motors. When Yeager’s surrendered that franchise in the 1990s, it was the oldest continually operating Evinrude dealership in the U.S.
Eventually, Ira opened a store in downtown Bellingham in 1928 and was very successful there. Also, his married daughter, Marianne, entered the business and within a few years convinced Ira to build, and move into, a bigger store a couple of miles out of the downtown core in 1956.
The secret story here is that Ira was so concerned about giving up his downtown location that he continued to operate both stores in case the new one failed. Within a few months the new store was doing so well he closed the old store and moved to the new one and within a few years, more than doubled it in size. Much credit goes to Marianne for her insights and wisdom as she was really the driving force behind the success of the store in those early days.
Eventually her husband, Frank Uhrig quit his teaching job and came in to help run the store. Marianne and Frank had two sons, Frank Jr (Skip) and Ira. Sadly, Marianne died of cancer in 1968 so Frank became the overall manager. During the 80’s, Frank Uhrig began the process of purchasing the store from Ira and eventually became the sole owner. Ira continued to be the figurehead and was active in the store into his 90s.
During the 97 year history of Yeager’s, the store has employed thousands of people and allowed hundreds of college students to work their way through college by working there part-time.
Over time, Yeager’s has become the mecca of retail establishments in NW Washington for the outdoor-minded: hunter, fisher, camper, skier, kayaker, and hiker, with a great workwear store and fabulous toy store thrown into the mix for good measure.
Yeager’s from day one to today has always been a community-minded company donating to, and supporting, countless charitable organizations in Bellingham and Whatcom County. The desire always has been to give back to the people of the community that has supported them for 97 years.
The WBA is proud to call Yeager’s Sporting Goods a member.