Gay Atlanta apparel retailer ABETTERBUZZ debuts first physical store

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Popular gay-owned online store ABETTERBUZZ Brand Goods reached a milestone this month with the opening of its first brick-and-mortar store.

ABETTERBUZZ was one of three businesses that the Decatur Downtown Development Authority chose to be a part of its retail incubator program. The apparel store opened on Oct. 15 alongside Dope Coffee Company and Royal Thanaka Natural Skincare at 431 West Ponce de Leon Avenue.

ABETTERBUZZ will be able to test its concepts in the space for six months, according to founder and creative director Buzz Busbee. One of the businesses will then take over the lease permanently.

“This is probably the best way possible for us to figure out what shape ABETTERBUZZ wants to take in the future without having to invest too much into it, especially still being very much in the middle of COVID,” Busbee told Project Q Atlanta.

ABETTERBUZZ launched online in 2016 with a selection of t-shirts, tank tops, headwear and other accessories. The designs — from the various bear insignias to slogans proclaiming “GayTL,” “Don’t Be A Dick,” “The Queers,” “Bless Your Heart” and “Welcome to Beautiful Blue Georgia” — became familiar mainstays around Atlanta.

Beyond the new physical store, ABETTERBUZZ stays busy on the pop-up shop scene. They also host benefits for nonprofits, including this one for LGBTQ homeless youth back in 2018.

The business also sells its products to wholesale customers in Chicago, Palm Springs and Provincetown. Some of the line can be found locally at Brushstrokes, Home Grown and The Beehive.

“Those are the only places that our apparel and accessories have lived in a retail market,” Busbee said.

ABETTERBUZZ Brand Goods launched online in 2016. (Photo courtesy ABETTERBUZZ)

‘I kind of pinch myself’

Busbee was a corporate art director for Starbucks and used that experience doing branding for the coffee giant to put together the Decatur location of ABETTERBUZZ.

“So we were able to get the space to fit to tell our story the way we wanted to and display our products the way we wanted to,” he said. “We’re super proud of the way it looks.”

Plans for the store include hosting events over the next six months to draw more people in.

ABETTERBUZZ’s growth over the last five years was more than Busbee expected.

“We just started it as an experiment,” he said. “I still had my full-time job when it started and was doing this on the side. As the years have gone by, it’s demanded more attention as we’ve been able to grow.”

He’s proud of keeping the business’s brand integrity intact over the years and to continue raising money for worthy causes.

“I kind of pinch myself throughout this process and am just pleasantly surprised that we’re growing this the way we want to grow it and are super grateful for all the support,” Busbee said. “We think it’s our responsibility to push that forward to other places that need it as well.”

ABETTERBUZZ Brand Goods is open at 431 West Ponce de Leon Avenue in Decatur from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, plus 12 noon – 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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