Bees Tees has not gone away. It just moved a bit north.
Serving area schools and businesses in Fort Meade since 1990, Ray Ringsby, known by many as Mr. B, has retired and sold his business to Tonya Parker-Barwick, a long-time friend who owns Parker Place at 165 E. Main St. in Bartow.
“I had to get out of it,” Mr. B said. “I’m 80 years old and legally blind.”
And, on a positive side for him he’s not only found a friend to sell the business to, but someone who is in a similar business and will improve on what Mr. B and his wife started as a hobby that grew into a home business.
Parker Place, which grew from being a home business from a garage for Tonya, moved into the incubator program in the Stuart Building in June 1, 2011, moved into its own place later that year and has enjoyed a successful run on Main Street making embroideries and T-shirt supplies, hats for places like Bartow Elementary Academy, Union Academy, First Methodist, Mosaic, Semco, EcoTech, Evolve Lawn, just to name a few. Bees Tees was making supplies — but not embroideries — for Lewis Anna Elementary, the Fort Meade baseball league and the like. Now Bees Tees customers will have more to choose from.
“Putting these together will be something that will do well,” Parker said. “He did the off-screen polos. Now people can get embroidered hats. We’ve expanded Bees Tees and Parker Place.”
Mr. B started his business as a hobby, sort of a reaction to what his children wore to school.
“When my kids were going to school there were no uniforms and they could wear anything they wanted to school. I told my wife we were going to make shirts that were more presentable. We were good, Christian people and we didn’t want them to wear things that were offending,” he said.
They bought a press and started making shirts and quickly got compliments on what they were doing. From there it took off.
“People wanted us to make them something and it turned into a full- fledged business that was a good enough mom and pop business. We weren’t going to get rich, but it was fine.”
Parker-Barwick started her business from her garage in Bartow after she moved there from Fort Meade. She got help from her father, Tony Parker, and his wife Andrea, her mother, Patricia Parker and her husband John Barwick, who she says works the midnight shift during the uniform season. Now she also has two employees working for her, Christa Shiber and Deanna Dempsey.
On Friday and Saturday Parker-Barwick said she has a special summer kickoff where there will be sales on uniforms and there will be several specials and there will be bag giveaways with coupons for incentives, she said.
Aside from having customers that cement her business, she has a full supply of school items such as backpacks and other items for sale.