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Jax Daily Record Friday, Mar. 15, 201904:00 AM EST

Creating a buzz in San Marco

Beekeeper brothers will open their second Stubbees honey products store.

by Drew Dixon, Contributing Writer

What started as a door-to-door and internet business selling honey has evolved into a growing company that has added brick-and-mortar locations in two prime commercial areas in Northeast Florida.

Brothers Justin and Austin Stubblefield intend to open Stubbees honey products Saturday at 1960 San Marco Blvd. in San Marco Square.

Their first Stubbees store location opened six months ago at 92 Charlotte St. in the heart of the historic district in St. Augustine.

The San Marco location is the second storefront for the company, whose name incorporates "Stubblefield" and the affinity the brothers have for bees and honey.

Justin Stubblefield said many family members own businesses, such as roofing, cleaning services and real estate.

“Our family has always had businesses. We’re a school of hard knocks kind of people,”  Stubblefield said.                                            

Stubblefield said the family loves animals and bees. “Something clicked in our heads. Why not?”

The St. Augustine storefront came after nearly eight years of selling the honey goods.

Stubbees has proprietary products ranging from edibles, including raw honey, to apothecary options, such as skin care and bath products, to leather conditioner.

The business gained traction as a wholesaler and some of its products are ingredients in notable local food products, such as The Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops. 

Stubbees gained traction through internet sales and it eventually led to the consideration of storefronts.

Justin Stubblefield said he and his brother decided to target St. Augustine for their first store because they had exhausted internet and in-person marketing and partnerships. 

The business roots started in high school.

“We thought honey would be a neat hobby,” Justin Stubblefield said. He asked his parents to buy him honey bee hives when he turned 16 while a student at Mandarin High School. 

His parents offered a car, but he preferred bee hives. He said he’s fascinated with bees and the product of honey.

“They (bees) are the structure for food,” the 24-year-old said. “If you don’t have bees, you don’t have pollination and you don’t have food.”

“The reason we wanted to do brick-and-mortar is because of the education,” Justin Stubblefield said. “Only through a storefront can you say why you’re supporting these beekeepers and what makes you different.”

Stubbees partners with other beekeepers to gain types of honey that come from blossoms that produce different types of flavors. They’ve even reached out to growers in California.

In addition, the stores allow the brothers to experiment with products on the shelves and receive immediate customer feedback.

The San Marco store features wood flooring and a wall with the Stubbees logo. Shelves line the walls of the 900-square-foot store in the west end of the square.

The 23-year-old Austin Stubblefield said he joined his older brother in the pursuit of beekeeping and products during high school.

The brothers, high school graduates, say they haven’t needed business loans and they have no debt.

“The business side just kind of came along with this. We just did it as a hobby and eventually we got into doing wholesale for people. From wholesale, we opened up a store and now two stores. It just all came together,” said Austin Stubblefield.

They decline to share revenue figures but said Stubbees is profitable.

Austin Stubblefield said he’s sentimental about opening Stubbees in San Marco because he used to work part-time at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute not far from the square.

“This is a really good location here because of all the traffic and everyone going to work Downtown. It’s just a very busy spot,” he said.

Justin Stubblefield said the San Marco crowd also fits the demographic of customers they seek. They’re “foodies,” as he described them, and said the area will skew a bit younger than other parts of town. 

“How could it not work? These are our people,” he said.

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