(The original Bee Hive storefront in Downtown Anderson.)
The beloved store that grew out of a by-gone era more than a century ago is reinventing itself. Jacqueline Foster Ashley and her daughter, Katie Beth Johnson, are the new owners of the Bee Hive. The name is the same and the location is still at 510 Main Street in Anderson.
Jacqueline and Katie Beth have transformed the Bee Hive into an elegant venue for weddings, showers, receptions, as well as informal gatherings such as a champagne brunch with mimosas.
But wait, there’s more. The upstairs will feature women’s and children’s clothing, jewelry, china and specialty items for the kitchen. Antiques, lamps, and Christmas decorations will also be a part of the Bee Hive repertoire.
(One of the displays at the new store.)
The original Bee Hive was the brain child of G.H. Bailes. Bailes was an entrepreneur who could spot a mutually beneficial opportunity for self and customer alike. The Bee Hive was in business in Anderson as early as 1902, as shown in the Bee Hive ads that ran in the Intelligencier newspaper of that year.
The Bee Hive was located in two different downtown locations in Anderson, prior to the current site at 510 Main Street. And if you needed something, Bailes could find it. Among the items sold at the Bee Hive at the turn of the 20th century were octagon-shaped soaps, and "kangaroo shoes." Kangaroo shoes? Yes! Not shoes for kangaroos, but shoes made from kangaroo hide.
Over the years, patrons of the Bee Hive were enamored with the trinkets, fabrics, and unique gifts that they discovered. Sue Belk’s fondest memories were of the upstairs sewing room with white walls, black floors, and sunlight streaming through the windows. “Four women, including my grandmother, sewed, steamed, and ironed fabulous cotton and linen fabrics. The air was always heavy with the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Gossip flowed freely.”
(A logo from the original Anderson store, The Bee Hive.)
Ann Johnson Rabon shared, “I loved to shop there for gifts. They wrapped them for you and made a beautiful bow.”
Andy Sands loved the Bee Hive and Ms. Frances. Andy said, “And some years before that, my mother loved shopping at George Bailes’ interior design shop,‘ The Hamilton House.’
Graeme McGregor Heintz recalls that Frances Johnson was ‘a force of nature’. “I loved just going and hanging out with her and helping her wrap gifts with heavy wallpaper. She was funny, eccentric and wonderful. I started my antique teacup collection from Frances, also antique prints. She had a million clocks because “her brother, Dr. Charles Bailes, collected clocks. It’s what he gave me for a wedding present, still treasured in my home.”
Lisa Gallant Fouche’ loved going to the Bee Hive in cold weather to find Christmas presents. “Frances would always have the iron stove on in the middle room and it would be so cozy. I loved the tiny room behind it that had all the small gifts. But all the rooms — front, lower, and on the side — were filled with great gifts.”
Jimmy Staggs shared,“My sister and I loved to ramble around in there in the 1970’s”.
Linda Byce and her sister loved to meander around in the store. "I bought my favorite, tiny doll there. I had it for many years.”
Dianne Coker said, “The Bee Hive had gifts for all occasions — weddings, graduation, birthdays and especially Christmas ... There would be a different tree in each room with the most whimsical decorations. You could also get South Carolina themed gifts, and antiques galore. I loved the Bee Hive! My friend Trudy Johnson and her mom, Frances Johnson, were owners. Fond memories shopping there.”