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Bee’s Wrap seals deal on new Middlebury digs

MIDDLEBURY — It’s as busy as a beehive in the former Middlebury Sears Hometown Store at 383 Exchange St.
The 10,000-square-foot space, vacated by Sears this past July, is now hosting the production, shipping and warehouse functions of “Bee’s Wrap,” a fast-growing manufacturer of an all-natural alternative to plastic wrap that’s made Bristol its home for the past four years.
Brian Carpenter, owner of 383 Exchange St., confirmed the Bee’s Wrap tenancy late last week.
On Tuesday, Bee’s Wrap founder and CEO Sarah Kaeck had already fired up production at the new location, which offers the company more room to grow than the combined total of 7,500 square feet of available space it’s had within two buildings off Bristol’s Rockydale Road. She said Bee’s Wrap will continue to maintain its administrative offices at 394 Rockydale Road, but hopes to consolidate all of its activities under one roof within the next six to 12 months.
“We’ve been looking for a new space for a long time,” Kaeck said during a Tuesday phone interview.
But recent events prompted Kaeck to act with more urgency in pinning down a new, larger spot.
First, Bee’s Wrap has been growing at a frenetic pace as demand for its product grows.
Kaeck — a mom of three, avid gardener, seamstress and small-scale farmer — founded Bee’s Wrap in 2012 with the idea of offering a healthier, more sustainable way to store food.
“What she discovered is a lost tradition made new again,” reads a product narrative on beeswrap.com. “By infusing organic cotton with beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin, she created a washable, reusable, and compostable alternative to plastic wrap.”
And Bee’s Wrap has taken off in a big way, thanks to a growing environmental ethos among the world’s population and some national exposure that’s recently included a video on Buzzfeed and a partnership with the National Geographic Society.
Buzzfeed — an online media company covering news, entertainment, pop culture and other subjects — posted a video about Bee’s Wrap last spring that has thus far garnered more than 86 million views.
Bee’s Wrap is a part of National Geographic’s “Planet or Plastic?” campaign, a global initiative aimed at raising awareness of the plastic pollution crisis.
Kaeck said her company has swelled from nine workers just three years ago to around 30 full-time employees who today make sure Bee’s Wrap is exported throughout the world.
“It’s caused people to want to make changes in their lifestyle,” Kaeck said proudly of the impact of her product.
The other big factor in Bee’s Wrap’s migration to Middlebury is the Hopothecary Brew Company’s acquisition earlier this year of the former Rockydale Pizza building that Bee’s Wrap had been renting for storage. Hopothecary founders Jamie and Sam Sawyer will make a beer using exclusively local ingredients. Their plans also call for a taproom.
If business continues to soar as it has, Kaeck could soon be faced with the enviable dilemma of finding an even bigger hive for Bee’s Wrap.
“We are looking at long-term options to accommodate our expansion,” Kaeck said.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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