Bee You: Vintage and second-hand shop builds community
In November, Sandy Hill celebrated the official opening of Bee You Creative Styles, an indie clothing and book shop at 323 Somerset St. E. For four years, owner Jess Vaillancourt had been seeking the ideal spot to relocate. As a former resident of Sandy Hill, she hoped our neighbourhood would be more accessible to a variety of existing and new customers than her previous venue in Carp. She was quickly proven right: in addition to familiar faces, the range of new clients—including men—exceeded her expectations, prompting her to open additional space in the basement.
This positive response is no surprise given the variety and quality of goods on offer. The shop displays a handpicked selection of beautiful vintage and second-hand clothing for all styles and age groups, from babies to grandparents. It also offers new and gently used books spanning six genres: style, music, environment, crafting, fiction, and nostalgia — the owner’s specially selected 1920s fiction and rare used books. Vaillancourt is also proud to offer a space where local artists and artisans can sell their products, including artwork, jewelry, candles, soaps, crocheted hats, cards, and pottery.
Vaillancourt sees her shop as a place where people can truly “bee” themselves, as its name and logo suggest. She replicates the cozy feeling of walking into someone’s home or closet, and inspires customers to explore their own creativity when dressing. But the “bee”— a vital contributor to our ecosystems — is also a metaphor for sustainability, a core value underlying the owner’s business model. In fact, Vaillancourt sources many items through consignment, which she sees as “a wonderful win-win”: members of the community can support local business while giving new life to beautiful items that are useful to others. Some items even come with a personal story.
In Vaillancourt’s words, the shop “brings people together through their things.” Some of the most touching moments she has witnessed involve mothers and daughters bonding when they finally find the perfect item for an important event — at an affordable price — after a fruitless search in malls and box stores. Vaillancourt also donates certain items to local charities as another way to strengthen bonds within the community.
If you have not yet discovered Bee You Creative Styles, see its website (www.beeyoucreativestyles.com) or, better yet, drop by the shop on Somerset. You will get a friendly welcome and personalized service, and you may find an unexpected treasure.