Right around the corner from the epic Michael Rosato mural of Harriet Tubman is a little store that subtly entices you to give it a closer look. Perhaps, it’s the quirky signs. One reads, ‘Hi Honey! We are Open.’ Another, notifies you of open hours: ‘Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to somewhere between 5pm and 6pm (or 7:00 or 8:00 ask me!), yet another identifies the business as a ‘dealer of whimsy.’ If these don’t pique your curiosity, maybe Boo Boo, the French bulldog sitting regally on her doggy bed in the window and greeting you when you enter, will do the trick. Surely the name, Honey Bee Trading Post, promising all things bee-made will interest you.
Enter, and you might be greeted by a cheerful voice from the back room. “I’ll be right out,” you’ll hear. If you look in that direction, don’t be surprised, to see a barber’s chair –no, not for sale—but being used by the owner, Amy Taylor, as she cuts a client’s hair. By now, you probably will be confused, maybe even more so when you realize that the full name of the shop is Honey Bee Trading Post/Fishing Creek Barber Shop. Even the business card is double-sided, depending on which service you’re interested in: One side will give you the details of the front of the store—Bee Inspired Goods. Turn it over, and you’ll see the words: ‘Hello handsome, you’re due back on _______.’
To untangle how these two diverse businesses became one, we sat down with Taylor who, has been barbering for over 30 years. A few years ago, when the front of the store was the barbershop, she was cutting a customer’s hair who happened to be a beekeeper from whom she’d been buying honey and candles as Christmas gifts. It was then that she had an idea: “It was around Thanksgiving, and I said, ‘sell me a case of your honey,’ thinking I could sell it to my clients when they come in to get a haircut. I also got a bunch of beeswax candlesticks and put a little sign in the window that said ‘local honey sold here.’” When that proved to be successful, she thought, why not carry some other bee product, such as skincare, after all this was a barbershop.
“Three years later,” says Taylor, “it’s morphed into this.”In addition to the original honey products, ‘this’ has become a collection of delicious teas, candies, nuts, and raw honey that you can try before buying. There are also creative, playful mugs and pillows; and practical items such as handmade brooms, leather passport covers, soaps, and beeswax wraps. There is even a large wall-hanging with a quote that Taylor swears no one can read out loud without getting choked up. We won’t spoil it for you; you can be the judge. The bottom line is, Taylor loves having things around her that everybody can connect to, even though she’s somewhat surprised at the unexpected transformation of what used to be a ‘cut and shave’ business.
But change is not a stranger to Taylor. Even the barbering was not something planned. Taylor originally had a license to cut women’s hair. She took time off of the salon industry to work as a liveaboard steward on a private yacht, before deciding to return to her craft. Searching the want ads, a barbershop job listing attracted her. “I thought barbering was a joke. I could do anything a barber could do.” Taylor said. “I got the job and was humbled the first day. I mean, I had all the fundamentals. I just didn’t have the skill and I didn’t have the technique. But I loved it, and so here I am.”
That same passion she shows for the back room is also evident towards the products she sells in the front of the store. “A lot of the companies I buy from are certified B Corps, which means they hold themselves to a higher standard with who they source their materials from,” Taylor says. She mentions Brew Tea, one of her suppliers, as an example. “They make sure that whoever is picking the tea leaves are getting paid fair wages. The plastic they use is biodegradable.” Her biggest seller is the beeswax wrap, which replaces single-use plastic, like Saran Wrap, “It’s a piece of cotton cloth that’s treated with beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. It clings to whatever you want it to cling to by using the warmth of your hands. It can be reused up to about a year, and it’s completely biodegradable and compostable. It’s meant to go right back to the earth after about a year or so.”
Taylor is proud to be part of the environmental movement. But it is her regard for bees that is almost spiritual. When her original bee supplier died, Taylor chose Easton beekeeper, Bee George. “I’ve learned how important it is to help our bees, and I’ve become an advocate for them. Even in my own yard, we don’t use any pesticides or herbicides. We don’t use any fertilizers. We grow lots of flowers. I don’t raise bees, but I think we’re all keepers of the bees.”
Amy Taylor hopes to welcome many people into her store, people who will share her enthusiasm for all that she has to offer. But don’t expect barbering to be one of them. “I’m so busy that I had to stop taking new clients about six months ago.” Does that mean she’ll be letting that part of her business go? “No, I’ll always be a barber,” she is quick to point out. “I love it. I do. I love it.”
It is apparent that she has given much thought not only to barbering but also to retail. There is great music coming over the speakers; there are things to taste, heartfelt things to read, and of course, Boo Boo asking for a belly rub. There are also two very comfortable chairs. “I want it to feel cozy,” Taylor says. “That’s the barber coming out in me because you always need a place where people can sit and talk. Now that I’m doing this, I get more women sitting and chatting. There are also times when couples come in together, and one of them wants to sit; usually the guy, while their wife shops.”
The store appears to be a Cambridge attraction. While we were there, someone stopped by just to pet Boo Boo before running off to lunch. Someone else visited, looking for a recommendation on what to give to cheer up a sick friend. We, of course, picked up a few perfect stocking stuffers. Whatever might draw you in, don’t be surprised if this store turns out to be more than what you expected.
You can follow Boo Boo and the store on Facebook: Fishing Creek Barber and Honey Bee Trading or on Instagram: honeybeetradingpost.
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