Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market!  

I hope everyone is having a good week!  We are having a good week at the store.  Probably the two biggest challenges in our business right now are rapidly rising prices and labor shortages.  We can’t find people to work.  I am sure COVID has caused some of this inflation and a decrease in the labor pool, but I will lay most of the blame on labor conditions on our fine government.  They have done a great job of hiring and training people to stay at home and receive free money.  Based on the politicians I see and hear on television, I would think I could outsmart them and steal some of their “employees”.  Nope, they are obviously a lot more clever than I am, or it could be the free money I don’t have to offer?  We can only spend what we have; they can spend all they want.

The Knox County Mayor lifted the mask mandate last week.  I don’t think he would have mandated mask in the first place if it was left up to him, so I am not quite sure how to react to this.  I think it is a good signal that we are closer to the end of this pandemic.

This morning, I saw that the Knoxville City Mayor is deciding on removing the law enforcement presence from the public school system.  This seems to be a national trend.  The various local, state, and national governments appear to have decided that, if there is a controversial incident involving law enforcement, the solution is to just get rid of law enforcement in that area.  I guess we will let the mask police, the “woke” police, and the social media police be in charge of law enforcement.  They seemingly can do no wrong.   We will see how that works out.

The irony of all of this to me is the government sends out these stimulus checks, and all you have to do is look at the lines at the gun counter of a sporting goods store to realize a lot of people are using the stimulus money to buy guns.  The next action the government takes is to start removing law enforcement.  I guess they might as well amend the 2nd Amendment to say, “you have the right to bear arms and the government will provide them to you for free.  On top of that we will remove law enforcement to protect your right to commit a crime with them”?  Welcome to the Wild West that was once the United States of America!

Now, here is another problem with what’s taking place that most of you all probably have not thought of and it really hits close to home.  If we get rid of our police force, all of our local donut shops will go broke!  Where will get our donuts?  One of the best parts of going to church every Sunday for my family is they have donuts.  If they start having to serve scones or some other bad substitute for donuts at church, our kids are going to have a hard time dragging Erica and I to church every week!  OK, enough of my uneducated nonsense on those topics!

Getting back to store business, a lot of you have quit wearing mask due to the lifting by the county of the mask mandate.  Our staff at the store is going to continue to wear masks until the Knox County Health Department lifts the mandate.   We fall under their jurisdiction, so we will continue to abide by their mandate.  My hope is that this will be lifted within the next month, and then we can all take them off based on our comfort level.  I think by then, everyone that wants the vaccine will have had ample opportunity to receive it, and I, for one, am not going to wear a mask for those that choose not to vaccinate.  So, customers can choose to wear mask or not, but the staff will continue to wear them.  I would ask that you continue to respect the space of others while you are in the store.

We are going to start cooking classes again in June.  We will have four classes in June.  Barbara Tenney has already prepared the menus, and we are getting them scheduled.  If we haven’t already, we will be sending out emails with the schedule, and you can call the store to sign up for them.  After not having them for more than a year, we are excited to get those started again, so be on the lookout for the schedule.

Another thing I heard yesterday was the annual (besides last year) Rocky Hill Christmas Parade will probably be held this year.  I sure hope we have it.  In my mind, this is the most important event our community puts on every year.  I’m sure the parade committee will be looking for volunteers, so keep a lookout for more details, and I will do the same.

Finally, it sure is a good feeling that our community seems to be getting back to normal.  I have had the privilege of a front row seat to view it for the last thirty-one years.  In a lot of ways, it has changed, but in more important ways, it has stayed the same.  We are neighborly to one another.  We solve our differences through patience, respect, understanding, and a heavy dose of common sense (hint, hint, rest of the world).  When we fail one another, we get up the next day and try to do better.  This last year has put all of those values to the test but here we are, almost on the other side of the pandemic.  We may have a few scrapes and bruises, but we have persevered.

I couldn’t be prouder and more appreciative of how our staff has performed this last year and how our customers and community have supported their efforts.  Thanks again for all your kindness and support and thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

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