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Web Exclusive: The Bee Team

Honey, this retailer knows how to mind its own beeswax

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The Savannah Bee Co. (Savannah, Ga.), a growing chain of 12 specialty stores, trades in honey and all the other products made from beehives – like jellies, skin care products, even glue and the sweet honey wine known since ancient days as mead.

The retailer enlisted Bergmeyer Associates (Boston) to create a store prototype that could roll out the concept into vacation spots like Disney World, Gatlinburg and Boulder, Colo., and specialty lifestyle centers like Atlanta’s new multi-use Westside Provisions.

Critical to the prototype is company founder Ted Dennard’s intention to be more than just a merchant. He’s a missionary for all the things the beehive represents – sustainability, ecology, teamwork and natural, artisanal goods.

“Dennard’s vision turns retail on its head,” says Bergmeyer Principal Lewis Muhlfelder. “He’s selling honey not only to fund his venture, but also to fund his cause – supporting education about maintaining the bee population. There’s a passion and nobility about the venture.”

The 3025-square-foot Atlanta store was designed to focus on customer experience, says Bergmeyer Senior Interior Designer Stephanie Jones, “an ability for sales associates (or “bee educators”) to interact with and educate customers. There’s a lot of tasting, sampling and socializing.”

There’s also the usual kids’ play area, but this one is not to keep children out of parents’ hair as they shop. A large “skep” (a fabricated beehive) houses TVs with educational videos and supporting materials. It also promotes Dennard’s pet non-profit, called The Bee Cause, that brings the hive experience into schools.

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“Dennard believes that the children who learn here will make the greatest impact on the future of the environment,” says Muhlfelder.

The neutral-palette store, which highlights the beautiful colors of the products and their packaging, is a way to build community, says Jones. “It’s to have people fall in love with the story of the bees and their products, then go home and order more products online, and share their discovery with friends.”

Why? Bee Cause.

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