Goliath Had a Beef with David

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is having a good week! We are back to calmer conditions in the store this week. I don’t know if it was the weather, the news headlines, or the soft opening of the economy last week, but it got a little crazy in here again.  I am glad to be back to calm!

So far this week, our trucks have been running on time, and we seem to be getting a little more merchandise every truck.  We are by no means fully stocked, but the trend is looking good.  Having said that, we did put some meat items as well as a few other items around the store back on limits.  We are okay on supply with these, but when anxieties start running high, like last week, people seem to start hoarding again.  It gets a little frustrating when you carry out twenty packs of chicken or ground beef only to have one person take it all.  Sharing has seemed to have gone by the wayside.  I guess they had a different kindergarten teacher than I did!  I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you, but I would rather everyone have some of what they want than someone having more than what they need.  I don’t have a whole lot of knowledge on the world food supply, but I will go out on a limb and say no one in Rocky Hill is going to starve to death from lack of food supply.

One thing we are still struggling to get on our trucks are all the antibacterial wipes, sprays, and sanitizers.  This includes the wipes that we provide our customers when they walk in and throughout the store.  We got some last week, but none yesterday, so I had to go on a little field trip yesterday morning to get some.   The place I go is not really a place you go to buy hand wipes.  The reason I usually go is to get hydraulic hoses made for my tractor.  They just happen to sell hand wipes, also.  Yesterday morning, I did both.  I had two hoses made and bought several cases of wipes.  The wipes are very expensive compared to the ones we usually get, but now is not the time to run out of wipes for our customers.  I have thought about trying to beat the owner down on price since I buy so many of them but thought better of it.  First, he is a small businessman, just like me, and secondly, he likes to fish.  I want his business to survive through this mess and, more importantly, it’s just not right, beating a man out of his fishing money.  I guess he is beating me out of my fishing money, but I need him a lot more than he needs me, even if he doesn’t realize it.  My wife would tell you I have enough fishing stuff anyways. A fisherman would never tell you that, but a fisherman’s wife will.  Anyway, I am not going to mention the name of the company because I have come to discover “Big Brother” is watching me.  I think I have known this for quite some time, but recently I had another reminder.  It came in the form of a cease and desist order from our friends at the Certified Black Angus Beef Council.

As most of you know, right before this pandemic started, we replaced all of our meat cases in the store. We also redid our prep room in the meat department and added new scales.  Well, when we bought new scales, the guy that programmed the scales put the logo of Certified Black Angus beef on one of the labels we tag meat with.  None of us really noticed or probably cared, because we have sold black angus beef for at least twenty years in the store without the first problem.  Plus, our old scales weren’t fancy enough to put logos on meat labels anyways.  Not long after we completed this project, I received this nice letter from the aforementioned council to remove any use or image of Certified Black Angus on any of our products.  Failure to do so would result in a lot of bad things for me and my business.  The letter went on to say that they appreciated us selling their products and were glad for us to continue to sell their products, just without the logo or specific wording.  In Rocky Hill, we call that talking out of both sides of your mouth, but however it comes out, I knew I better listen.  Anyway, upon checking some of our meat labels, we discovered some of the labels had a picture of a cow on them.  Even though a six-year-old could have drawn a better cow, the one on our label was the very special, officially licensed, CAB cow image.  That apparently is a big no-no.  Well, our staff was wondering why, after all these years, did we all of a sudden get the nice letter.  I immediately had my suspicions.  You see, on my route home every day, I pass a certain billboard.  The billboard is an advertisement for a large grocery chain, as in more than a hundred stores large.  For months, the billboard boasted that they were the exclusive seller of Certified Angus Beef.  Every day that I went by it, I would say to myself, “self, that’s a lie”.  If my wife was in the truck with me, I would say it aloud, usually with an adjective or two attached.  After twenty-two years of marriage, I think she is getting used to me, but I am sure she still wonders if anyone else’s husband yells at billboards going down the interstate.  It just aggravates me seeing it every day on my way home.

Not long after we got our meat cases installed and I got the nice letter from CAB, a gentleman that represents large meat suppliers came in to help us set up our new cases.  I told him about the letter I received and what my suspicions were.  He said he knew the president of CAB, so he gave him a call to see what was going on.  It turns out, the president, or some other high ranking official, of this large grocery chain was in our store on a Saturday. They noticed the picture of the cow on one of our meat labels and immediately called the president of CAB to voice his displeasure with this.  I would guess he probably used a few adjectives with his displeasure also because the CAB guy said he got numerous calls from this company throughout that weekend.  So, my suspicions were correct!  It was the large grocery chain, the one with the billboard I disagreed with.

Now I don’t have a large grocery chain, but if I did, I don’t think I would spend much time worrying about a little corner grocery store in Rocky Hill putting a picture of a stick figure cow on a meat label.  I don’t think I would even acknowledge that the store existed.  They can buy and sell anything I can.  I don’t own the rights to anything we sell in the store.  Maybe they think, if they have the rights to a picture of a cow on their meat labels and I don’t, that makes their meat better.  If that’s the case, what are they doing shopping in our meat department on a Saturday afternoon?  They probably passed several of their own stores to come here, since they already have me surrounded with them.

While I do appreciate their business, I wish they would pick on someone their own size.  All the big chains seem to want to do is run the little guys like me out of business.  I guess that strategy works, because I am about the only one left around this area running an independent grocery store.  The big chains in other industries seem to share that same philosophy.

This brings me back to why I don’t want to divulge the name of my hand wipes source. For all I know, the grocery chain that seems to have such a keen interest in pictures of cows on meat labels might also read this nonsense I write every week.  If so, they would be glad to know the name of my source so they could go buy all of his hand wipes.  Maybe because they need hand wipes or maybe because they don’t want me to have any…or maybe because I’m paranoid?  I can also guarantee you they would try to beat him up on his price, which would take away his fishing money and I sure don’t want to be an accomplice to that!

Well, we wrote an apology letter to the Certified Angus Beef people and took the picture of the dumb looking cow off of our meat labels.  This must have satisfied them, since we have never heard back.  I have also noticed the billboard has changed on my way home.  The next one was boasting about selling Prime Grade beef.  I guess they bought some Prime Grade steaks when they were shopping in the store and now they will try to get the exclusive rights to those?

I don’t have the smarts or the money to have a big, splashy advertising campaign and fancy billboards.  I sure don’t have the money to get in legal battles with big corporations.  I am not going to spend money for a picture of a cow either.  I will get my kids to draw me a picture of a cow, if I need one.  I don’t have any trade secrets or exclusive rights to anything.  What I do have is a great staff that does their best to take care of our customers!  Maybe that’s the secret?  Let’s see if the big boys can figure that one out.  In the meantime, I think I will just take a different way home.  Maybe that will keep me out of trouble?

Thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

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