When Savannah Bee opened in Westport several years ago, people rolled their eyes.
So did I.
A honey store? Is that what Westport really needed?
Savannah Bee was much more than honey. By selling all kinds of bee products — and educating Westporters about the vitally important role bees play in our world — the Bedford Square shop filled a niche we didn’t even know we needed.
But for a variety of reasons, the local outpost of the 15-location, largely Southern chain is closing at the end of the year. Loyal customers are sad.
They’re especially sorry to see Julie Cook — the manager from the start — leaving early.
She moves soon to Brunswick for her dream job. She’s the new general manager of Mae’s Bakery & Cafe — and has a small stake in the business. It’s been an institution for over 40 years in nearby Bath.
It’s a homecoming of sorts. Julie went to Bowdoin College in the late 1970s and early ’80s. She’s hoped o get back ever since.
“Businesses are booming in Maine,” she says. “The food scene has always been very strong and extraordinary. They got the concept of farm to table way before we did down here. It was a way of life for a community of hard-working organic farmers and fishermen.”
Julie has been helping train the new beekeepers and bee educators at Savannah. Her last day is Thursday.
“I have enjoyed my 4-plus years with Savannah Bee more than I can say,” she notes. She’s lived in Westport and Weston for nearly 35 years.
“And although out store is closing this New Year’s, I truly believe we have made a lasting impact on everyone who visited us. By sharing our founder’s mission of helping people become better stewards of the planet, we did a very ‘good thing,’ as my former boss Martha Stewart would say.
“By raising awareness about bees and how to make meaningful changes to help save our Mother Earth, our kids and so many families have become pollinator protectors and changed the way they treat their lawns, gardens and each other.”
Julie established a bee yard at Wakeman Town Farm. She taught bee education classes to campers, got a year-round digital teaching hive donated by SBC and The Bee Cause, and WTF is up for a $1,500 grant to further build the program. She left the Farm and town in a better place than she found it.
She hopes her many area friends will visit her at Mae’s Bakery. Meanwhile, she says, “I’m over the moon. And ready for my next sweet adventure,” Julie says.