Burt Shavitz, who opened a Burt's Bees store in downtown Ithaca, dies at 80

July 6, 2015 by Ari Kissiloff

It's been Viva Taqueria for 20 years, but the corner of State and Aurora in Downtown Ithaca once featured a Burt's Bees store -- one of Burt Shavitz's earliest retail shops. The company says, "Our namesake and co-founder, Burt, passed away among family and friends in Bangor, Maine" on Sunday.

Burt's Bees remembers founder Burt Shavitz.Burt's Bees remembers founder Burt Shavitz.Back in the early '90s, when 14850 Magazine's office was above Simeon's on the Commons and we also had Copy Central, a small copy shop, Burt would come in to get his flyers and such printed. We thought he was an interesting and nice guy, and reading about him this morning, it's no surprise: He was into photography and journalism and nature, focusing on natural healthcare and beauty products before that became trendy. Very Ithaca!

The business got its start in 1984 when Burt Shavitz owned a small farm with chickens and bees, and sold honey from a small roadside stand. By chance, he picked up a stranded motorist, Roxanne Quimby, one day, and after the two hit it off, she started making candles from Burt's leftover beeswax. Soon they were experimenting with lip balm and other beauty products, and they had friendly little stores in Chapel Hill and Ithaca before the business exploded. (According to CNN, the two sold the company to Clorox in 2007 for a billion dollars.)

"Burt was a complex man who sought a simple life in pace with the seasons of nature on his land," the company said last night. "If there is one thing we will remember from Burt's life, in our fast-paced, high-tech culture, it's to never lose sight of our relationship with nature."

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