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Do You Remember?

"Frank Bee Stores Established in 1957"

(Reprinted from the Bronx Times Reporter August 3, 2006)

The internet has propelled Frank Bee Stores into national prominence.

 

Few people stopping at or passing by Frank Bee Stores realize how nationally famous the local shop has become. Perhaps they don’t know that their costume center has provided the dog outfits for Saturday Night Live as well as costumes for the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Muppet Show, and many others. They also supplied the tents for Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” and have long worked with the Derek Jeter Foundation supplying their needs. The photos on the wall in their office portray some of America’s leading celebrities and it all started with a five and dime store.

When Sam Baker left Odessa, Russia for America he had little or no prospects but his own determination to succeed. He met a young Polish girl named Anna Sarnik here in America. She was a cleaning woman and he worked as a janitor and then making keys on the street. Finally he put his key making and janitorial experience together to open a hardware store here in the Bronx. He started his business at 784 East 180th Street where Mapes Pool was later built and made a go of it. The business was not big enough to employ all of his seven children after they reached adulthood so his young son, Arthur, began selling flowers for a living. It was not very profitable and some weeks he actually lost money so he did what he knew best; he opened up a store similar to his father’s.

Arthur was living at 2779 Daly Avenue and scoured the Bronx for a suitable location. He found the site on East Tremont Avenue between Bruckner Boulevard and Otis Avenue and with a loan from his Uncle Frank and Aunt Nellie, he started up his business in 1957. He was so appreciative that he called his store Frank Bee in honor of Frank Beckman, his generous uncle without whom he could not have afforded the tremendous cost of starting up his five and dime store. He stocked just about every item the shelves could hold and every item was priced less than one dollar. As his children matured, they learned the business and joined their father. It soon became the place to shop for just about any item you might need – and still is. As the business grew they took over Stern’s Department Store at the corner of Otis Avenue and sold children’s clothing, baby carriages, etc. but soon found that a school uniform outlet fulfilled the greatest need to the community.

Arthur passed away on September 5, 1997 at the age of 79. His Funeral Mass was held at St. Benedict’s Roman Catholic Church and he was interred at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury. The three sons now run the business. Arthur, more commonly known as Wayne, and Douglas run the general store, costume center and carnival business while Craig specializes in school uniforms next door. Their father, grandfather and Uncle Frank Bee would be delighted to see how successful and popular the boys have become while providing such a great service to the community they love.

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