This is Small Business Weekly, a recurring feature in which we’ll spotlight a small, independently owned business in Bethesda or Chevy Chase. Got a business you think we should check out? Drop us a line at desk[at]bethesdanow[dot]com.
It’s not often a small, family-owned business based in North Jersey seeks out a second storefront in Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle.
Brian Bailey, though, has a unique enough business that locals from Bethesda, Potomac and Rockville have been making the trek up to his Bee Bee Designs store for years.
Before the all-in-one summer camp clothing and supply store established its online business, Bailey’s mom (the store’s previous owner) did road shows and soon had customers from Maryland coming up to the shop in Livingston, N.J.
“We actually had a customer base already in the Bethesda area,” Bailey said. “We researched it and it fit really well. We decided to give it a whirl.”
Bailey, who co-owns Bee Bee Designs with his wife Abbie, opened the Bethesda location (4823 St Elmo Avenue) in late February.
The premise is simple: Customers make an appointment and a staff member runs them through everything they and their kid might need, want or require a replacement of for their summer sleepaway camp.
And at Bee Bee, that does mean pretty much everything. The store is stocked with trunks, bus bags, camp chairs, clothing, storage labels, address books, flashlights, shower caddies, clocks, pillows, bedding, color war gear and stationery and more.
“We employ camp experts. A lot of the people who work with us are camp parents who have children in camp or who have had children in camp,” Bailey said. “They’re the pros at saying, ‘You need this, you don’t need that and hear’s an extra thing, plus here’s what they would use that for.’ We don’t sell. We kind of just guide.”
The business doesn’t end once a kid goes to camp. Bee Bee offers custom care packages, which could be filled with candy, jewelry and cookies.
Then, there’s the after-camp products, including photo albums and memory boxes, and the novelty items that work as gifts throughout the year.
The store in Woodmont Triangle officially opened on Feb. 22. So far, it’s had about 20 appointments. Bailey’s store in New Jersey, which has been around for more than 20 years, will have its appointment number 174 of the year soon.
“The busy season here starts mid-February,” Bailey said. “In Bethesda, it’s been steadily busy and I think it will kind of blow up at the end of March and into April.”
The store is open to walk-ins, though prescheduled appointments include discounts.