From Basement Business to Best of Boston®


The Evolution of The Bee’s Knees

You hear stories of companies that begin in someone’s kitchen. Well, The Bee’s Knees really is one of those. Donna and I sat at my kitchen island dreaming up the plan for The Bee’s Knees British Imports. With only 6 ClosetMaid shelves in my basement and products from just 4 British brands, The Bee’s Knees was launched in 2011.

First Product Shelves   
The First 6 Shelves with 4 Brands
 First Packing Station
     The First Packing Station
As the years passed, we added new cool brands to our collection, more shelves were added to the basement storage and, slowly but surely, our reach began to grow. Facebook was key in those early days in helping us find our dream customers: fellow ex-pat Brits, Anglophiles and people who love quality homewares and gifts. We connected with our suppliers over in the UK and made factory visits too. 
Burleigh Tissue   
The Burleigh Factory - Tissue Transfer Paper Drying
 Meeting Emma Bridgewater
        A Highlight - Meeting Emma Bridgewater
Local friends and family looked forward to our annual Holiday Open House. We brought all the products up from the basement and turned the first floor of my house into Santa’s Grotto, and friends were able to shop our wares in person and enjoy traditional British treats, like sausage rolls and mince pies.

Burleigh at Bee's Knees Open House       
 Dunoon at our Open House
By 2018 we needed another set of hands on-board to help pack parcels, manage inventory and finances and take part in social media.
Trish fit this bill perfectly.
Tea with Jan Constantine
Jan Constantine Came for Tea
My basement was gradually filled with more shelves and lovely products. After another successful Open House in 2019, we discussed reaching a wider audience in person and potentially doing a small pop-up weekend outside my home in 2020. At that point we had no thoughts about opening a permanent location though.
And then the world was hit with a global pandemic, and everything changed. As our business was already fully functioning online, we were fortunate to be able to continue shipping orders. Each day I was down in the basement packing all the orders that were coming in. As restrictions eased Donna and Trish came back to help. 
Orders Piled Up at Home
Packages Ready to Ship from my Home
With the world still in flux in August 2020, we knew that we would not want people coming to my house for an open house in December. What were we to do? We realized, however, that there were quite a few empty storefronts and perhaps we could get a short-term lease to do a small pop-up shop for the holidays. 
As luck would have it, we found an adorable, small, double-fronted shop in quaint West Concord Village. The space was opposite the beloved Five & Dime. We had initially thought we would open for just a month from Thanksgiving to Christmas, but we had to sign a three-month lease. Trish scoured Facebook Marketplace and found some gems for displaying our wares. We made a couple of trips to Ikea, Donna created stunning window displays and we set up our little shop ready to open by mid-October.
West Concord Shop in the Snow

The Pop-Up Looking Lovely in the Snow
What a lovely reception we received! There were those naysayers to be sure, “Very brave opening a shop during the pandemic.” However, most of our customers were very happy to visit us and enjoyed chatting about Britain, even if they had to queue up outside in the cold New England winter weather due to social distancing. Many British expats were unable to travel home for Christmas and enjoyed coming to The Bee’s Knees for their traditional treats and a taste of home.
In Commonwealth Ave Shop
The Pop-Up Opened with Masks Mandatory
We realized quite quickly that we wanted to keep a brick-and-mortar shop along with the online one. But our cute space in West Concord was a tight squeeze with all the inventory and a tiny packing space. 
562 Massachusetts Ave
562 Massachusetts Ave, Acton
We loved being in West Concord, but West Acton Village called, and we landed at 562 Massachusetts Ave on the corner of Windsor Ave – how appropriate! We felt like we had so much space! We celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and met many new customers.
Platinum Jubilee Celebration 
 Platinum Jubilee Celebration
Celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee
As word of The Bee’s Knees spread, it became clear that we were going to grow out of 562 Mass Ave before long. We reached out to our landlord. 
It turned out that the beautiful 100 year old building across the street was, in fact, available. Once we stepped through the door of the light-filled room at 566 Mass Ave, we knew we had found our new home!

566 Massachusetts Ave
566 Massachusetts Ave, Acton

After a month of hard work, we were excited to celebrate our Grand Opening on September 9, 2022, with a ribbon cutting ceremony planned with The British Consul General to New England. Sadly, on Thursday, September 8th, we woke to the news that HM The Queen was under medical supervision. It did not seem possible that the only monarch we had all known our whole lives could pass. Sadly, later that day, Her Majesty died, and the world was in mourning. Our opening was put on hold, but we opened our doors to the community and together we grieved and shared our memories of this once-in-a-lifetime monarch. 
After a respectful period of time, we celebrated our grand opening and British Consul General, Dr. Peter Abbott, was present to perform the ribbon cutting! 

Grand Opening with Peter Abbott
Ribbon Cutting with Dr. Peter Abbott
We welcomed the holiday season with twinkle lights and decorations and an influx of customers. The Tuck Shop overflowed with Cadbury Heroes, Quality Street, Roses and all the favorite Christmas treats from our childhoods. 
We began 2023 with one event in mind: The Coronation of King Charles III. We planned to celebrate this historic occasion in style. We secured the Thwaites Pork Pie Truck, our team prepared lots of delicious treats and the local media descended on The Bee’s Knees. Tiaras and fascinators were the style of the day.
What a day it was! 
Celebrating The Coronation of King Charles III  Celebrating The Coronation of King Charles III
Celebrating The Coronation of King Charles III with Thwaite's Pork Pie Truck
Media Coverage for the Coronation
Little did we know that during this time a secret shopper from Boston Magazine would be visiting The Bee’s Knees without our knowledge. We were a contender for The Best of Boston® Awards!
We continued with business as usual, greeting every customer cheerfully and being as helpful as possible. By the end of June we were thrilled to learn that our little shop with a big heart had indeed won a Best of Boston® Award – The Best Shop for Anglophiles. What an honor!
Best of Boston Award
As 2023 draws to a close we are thrilled with the growth we have experienced this year, including expanding our footprint to create a dedicated shipping and receiving area. With this, we gained more valuable floor space to display our wares. We love getting to know more of our customers both in-store and on the phone and helping them find just the right gift or product they are looking for. None of this would be possible without our amazing team, who all work tirelessly to pack  your orders so carefully, to get them out as quickly as possible, deal with any queries you may have and to lend a helping hand in the shop too. 
I now cannot count the number of shelves we have at The Bee's Knees, and we represent over 70 delightful British brands!
We thank you wholeheartedly for your support and business not only this year but since 2011, and we look forward to seeing you in 2024!
The Bee's Knees Team


  • LW

    What a great story! Congrats!

  • Joan Perko

    I am just so thrilled that I discovered your shop completely by accident! I have loved all things British for a very long time! The Bee’s Knees has satisfied my craving for fine and fun British items since I first found your lovely shop! Wishing The Bees Knees a happy and prosperous 2024!

  • Joan Perko

    I am just so thrilled that I discovered your shop completely by accident! I have loved all things British for a very long time! The Bee’s Knees has satisfied my craving for fine and fun British items since I first found your lovely shop! Wishing The Bees Knees a happy and prosperous 2024!

  • Ronna Tyndall

    Your product choices (great brands and selections) upbeat marketing ….the joy of getting my British fix from you all nicely packed at my door step…..can’t wait to visit your shop next time we are in New England
    Thanks again for you doing everything possible to make it a perfect experience for me

  • Lynne Donnelly

    Such an inspiring story! You ladies have done an incredible job. Since I am in Florida I’m not able to visit your store but have ordered several times and absolutely love everything in your store, from the item I ordered to the presentation. Every item is bubble wrapped and delicately wrapped with tissue paper and your adorable Bees Knees sticker. I am so glad that I found you! Congratulations on your success. Happy New Year❤️

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