PARKERSBURG - Local potato chip junkies were abuzz on Friday with the return of Mister Bee potato chips in stores.
The company, which resumed production this week after filing for bankruptcy last year, began delivering product Friday to stores.
Brad Woodburn, owner of Rubin's Deli on Emerson Avenue, has cases of Mister Bee chips for sale. The deli received a shipment first thing Friday morning.
Photo by Jody Murphy
Bags of Mister Bee potato chips hit store shelves Friday. Brad Woodburn, owner of Rubin’s Deli, said he had customers stopping in before the store opened.
"We were the first ones on the North End to receive chips," he said.
Woodburn said when he learned Mister Bee would resume production and delivery, he contacted company officials with his plan to run a special promotion.
"I told them what I was going to do and they made sure I had them," Woodburn said. "The squeaky wheel gets the oil."
The deli is running a special, offering two ham and cheese subs and big bag of chips. Woodburn said the special is running all weekend and if it's a hit, he'll run it next week as well.
Woodburn said they left a chip rack vacant all day Thursday in anticipation of the return of Mister Bee.
"We wanted to let people know we were getting ready," he said.
Woodburn said he had customers stopping in before they opened Friday morning looking for the chips. Before lunch Woodburn said he'd already sold a case of chips.
The deli had a 4-foot metal rack just inside the door stocked with Mister Bee. A taller, cardboard display model beside the deli also was stocked with chips.
Jim Oppe, owner of local Foodland groceries, placed the chips in off-shelf displays before reducing other chips producers' space for Mister Bee.
"Let's give them a couple of weeks and make sure we don't have any issues," he said. "I don't think it will. Besides, you want them outfront anyway."
Stores only received regular flavor chips in 10-ounce bags. They also stocked 8-ounce bags of barbeque and sour cream and onion flavored varieties.
The love for the chips may be tempered by a price increase. The suggested retail price for a 10-ounce bag of Mister Bee chips is $4.29. That's 30 cents higher than a 10-ounce bag of Snyder of Berlin chips at the deli.
Mister Bee Chips at the Plum Street Foodland were also retailing for $4.29. The Vienna Wal-Mart was selling the chips for $3.79. Woodburn said the deli will sell Mister Bee chips at $3.99 a bag.
"I want to keep all my chips the same price."
Oppe said the price increase was no surprise. He also noted the price was comparable to other chip packages, such as Lay's brand chips.
"They are in the ballpark," he said.
According to Mister Bee's Facebook page, customers who live outside the area will soon be able to order chips through the company's website. Mister Bee said it will post a link to the site once it's available.
Early last month the company announced it would resume operations after undergoing an organizational restructuring. Mister Bee filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last November.
Production became possible earlier this year after a private investor provided money for operations. The Charleston Daily Mail reported Parkersburg entrepreneur Rick Barton, CEO of Wincore Windows and Doors, was poised to buy Mister Bee's assets.
A call to Mister Bee President Christie Mallett for comment was not returned.
Mallett replaced Doug Klein as company president. Klein was the third generation of the family to run Mister Bee since its founding in 1951 by Leo and Sara Klein.
The company is the only potato chip manufacturer in the state.