Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market! I hope everyone is enjoying the nice weather. It looks like we will have about three more days of it until the bottom drops out of it.
I am writing today to send out a quick reminder about the Rocky Hill Christmas Parade tomorrow. It starts at 6:00 pm. For those of you who have never attended, the parade route starts on Morrell Road around Rocky Hill Elementary School. From there, it turns left on Northshore Drive, travels right in front of our shopping center before ending at Rocky Hill Baptist Church.
For those of you who have attended before, you already know to come early and enjoy all the festivities surrounding the parade. I am sure there will be many pre-parties, after parties, and a lot of tailgating! There will be many options for food and beverages as well.
The Parade is the biggest event in Rocky Hill every year, and tomorrow’s will be the biggest we have ever had. It must be a big deal because a U.S. Congressman called me last week asking about how he could get in the parade. I’m not the guy to call about that, but I did give him a piece of my mind on a few other things while I had him on the phone. Actually, I didn’t; never seems wise to start trouble with a politician.
The Rocky Hill business community is the financial support behind the parade. It is our way of showing appreciation for all of you that support us throughout the year! There are also many volunteers from our community that spend a lot of time putting this together (which is not an easy task) so, I want to extend a BIG thank you to them!
We really appreciate being a part of this community as well as being a part of the parade! I hope you will join us tomorrow to witness how special the Rocky Hill community is!
Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market. I hope everyone is having a good week!
It is fall break this week, so I think a lot of folks are traveling because it has been pretty quiet in Rocky Hill the last few days.
The store is running pretty smoothly this week. With business being a little slower, being a little short on employees hasn’t been as taxing on the existing staff in trying to keep up. I’m sure that will change this weekend with a big football game on Saturday and everyone returning from out of town. It’s been a nice little break, but we need to be busy again in short order.
I wrote last week about labor shortages and, while those continue for us, we have hired a few new people recently. Hopefully, with the holiday season upon us, we will be fully staffed soon.
Inflation and product shortages are another big challenge for us right now. I think about every category in the store has now been hit by price increases. The meat category has gone up the most and, since we have kind of built our business on our meat department, I think higher meat prices have probably hit us harder than most other grocery stores. I really don’t see an end in sight for rising prices, so I won’t dwell on the bad news.
I did see a little good news in an article I read about a grocery man in New York. They were interviewing him about inflation in the industry, and he said he didn’t see inflation moderating until the middle of 2022. That’s not the good news. The good news was he is a billionaire! I didn’t know you could become a billionaire being a grocery man. He has been doing it a little longer than I have so, I assume in the next few years I’m going to be a billionaire grocery man? I’m sure my wife will be excited because then we can hang out with movie stars and rappers, plus we can shoot ourselves into space in our own private rocket.
Along with inflation, another big problem we are having is shortages of inventory. We received a grocery delivery this morning, and I just looked over the invoice. The invoice was about eighty pages long, with probably 2000 items listed on the order. Forty-two pages out of the eighty were out of stocks. Basically, we are only getting in about fifty percent of what we are ordering! This doesn’t even include things like Nabisco, Coke, and Frito-Lay products that deliver directly to the store on separate trucks. I’m sure you’ve noticed our potato chip and drink aisles have been pretty sparse. This has been an ongoing problem, but I think it will fix itself before inflation fixes itself.
The Labor Department reported this week that food, shelter, and gasoline have been the biggest drivers of inflation. I guess the only bright spot in this report is that those of you on Social Security are going to get a 5.9% raise on your Social Security checks. I’m sure my mom will enjoy her bump in pay until she goes to the gas pump or the grocery store and gives it all back, and then some, to pay the bill. On top of that, I am not sure the money is just laying around for all the Social Security recipients to receive a raise so, it will come from where?
I think the powers that be have finally realized that the people they proclaim to want to help the most, working families, have been hit the hardest this year. Most all of their income goes to food, shelter, and energy. COVID is obviously playing a part in some of these problems, but it might also be masking some bad policy decisions. I guess my only suggestion is that the powers that be might want to refine some of their policies or, the next time around, some new powers that be will be making policy.
Irregardless of all the tough times people are having around the world, the folks in Rocky Hill seem to be in good spirits. Whoops! I did it again! I used a word that’s not a word. As far as I know, I have been saying the word that’s not a word, “irregardless”, my whole life, but I was recently informed that that’s not a word. You see, I have a longtime friend that I play golf with, and somewhere in our conversation while playing, I used that word that’s not a word and he was quick to inform me that it wasn’t a word. I told him it had to be word because I always use it. He then informed me that he was privately educated, and I was publicly educated, which made him smarter, much less he’s a lawyer and I sell groceries, which further proved his point to me. Well, it bothered me the rest of the golf round, but I took his word for it. The next time we played, I made the same mistake again. I used the word that is not a word and, once again, he corrected me. In my frustration, I told him that he knew what I meant even if it wasn’t a word, and he told me it doesn’t matter; it’s still not a word. Then, probably because I was educated in public schools, I gave him “the finger” in my frustration. I then told him that’s not a word either, but since you were privately educated, you probably know what I mean don’t you???
So as far as I’m concerned, I’m way ahead of my privately educated friend in life. I’m going to be a billionaire because I run a grocery store, and I invented a new word to add to the English language that has never been a word before me!
I guess the true test about education is coming up for me. I have two children; one goes to a private school and the other goes to a public school. I don’t know if either one of them will be smart enough to invent a word or become a billionaire like their dad, but I do hope they find a career that will be just as rewarding as the Grocery Life has been to me!
I hope everyone has a great weekend, Go Vols, and thanks for letting us be a part of your community!
Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market! I hope everyone is a good week!
We have had some cooler weather, and the Vols won big last weekend which seems to have put people in better spirits, including myself.
The grocery business continues to be challenging. I would say the biggest challenge for us right now is finding people to work. We have tried several things to try to attract candidates for employment to no avail. It seems the more we increase the incentives to work here, the fewer applicants we get.
I have read a lot of studies done by some very well educated, smart people on why there are eleven million job openings in the country, and no one is willing to fill the openings. Most of the studies begin with “it’s complicated“ then they go through a myriad of reasons why people are not going back to work. These range from fear of COVID to unemployment benefits to wanting a better job to childcare to natural disasters and on and on and on. Well, after studying all of these studies over the last several months, I have determined that the real problem is really not that complicated. It’s because of people riding horses. Yep! I’m laying the blame at the hooves of the horses for the labor shortage. I got the idea from another national problem.
You see, we have another mess going on. It’s on the southern border of our country. Once again, some really well educated, smart people have done numerous studies over several decades trying to decide how to solve the mess on the border. They start out by saying “it’s complicated”. Then they explain a whole lot of reasons why the folks want to come here including persecution, global warming, natural disasters, better jobs, and reuniting with families. On our end, we can’t decide if we want to follow the laws, rewrite the laws, build a wall, tear down a wall, send them back, or let them in, and it goes on and on. That is, until the last couple of weeks. Now the news services are reporting that the problem on the border is because of the people riding horses. I guess the powers that be don’t like horses like I don’t like horses, so we have both decided to blame the horses for the problems we can’t solve ourselves. I’m just waiting for my son to start blaming the horses when he makes a bad grade in school? I think I know that horses are not the cause of lack of workers just like they aren’t the biggest problem on the border but, until I know for sure, I’m still not going to allow people to ride horses in the store.
I did make a change this week due to our limited staff. We are now closing at 8:00pm every night, instead of 9:00pm. This helps us with shifts and, hopefully, keeps our staff a little more rested, so we can be the best we can be when we are here. I hope this doesn’t inconvenience our customers too much and, hopefully, it will not be permanent.
Speaking of my son, he is now a freshman in high school, and you know what that means. That’s when you read To Kill a Mockingbird in English class. He doesn’t necessarily like to read, so I think he was trying to pass all his quizzes and tests on the book by not reading the book. That worked for exactly the first chapter. After his quiz on chapter two, his teacher was nice enough to send us an email about his failing quiz score. At that point, I asked my wife to pick me up a copy of the book and I would read it and quiz him over the chapters he was assigned. That would be my contribution to keep his mother from killing him. Well, things started getting better, but then I got demoted to helping him with geometry and biology, and my wife took over reading the book and quizzing him. I think she was worried I wouldn’t remember what I read long enough to be able to quiz him on it! I read a lot of books but never remember much about them once I finish them, just if they were good or bad. Well, I think he made an A on his final test over the book. I’m not sure I can say that for his geometry or biology grades.
The most recent books I have read are The Rosie Effect, Black Like Me, The Evening and The Morning, and Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon. The last one wasn’t very well written but still interesting. I guess I will finish up To Kill a Mockingbird now that everyone else has read it, and I don’t remember it from forty years ago when I first read it.
The two books I’m getting ready to start are The Great Blue Hills of God by Kris Beall and Faithful Presence by Bill Haslam. Both are local authors, one of which was the governor. His parents shop in the store, and they told me it may be the greatest book ever written, so I’m looking forward to it. They wouldn’t be biased, would they?
I also have a customer that brings me books to read. They are always around a thousand pages long. I’m starting to think he is trying to tie up all my time reading so I won’t write these dumb blogs. Too bad for him, I’m a fast reader! I’m paying him back by writing longer blogs that he has to suffer through!
On the subject of local authors, my wife and I went to an art show downtown last Friday for a local artist. His name is Alex Smith. I imagine a lot of you know Alex since he grew up right down the street in Forest Brook. I have been friends with his parents for as long as I can remember since we all grew up in Knoxville.
Alex went to West High School and Carson Newman College before embarking on a career in painting. He has lived in New York for the last several years, perfecting his craft and building his clientele, and has just recently moved back to Knoxville. I have seen his works at several art shows over the years, and his talent for painting continues to amaze me. I must admit, I am quite the connoisseur of art, especially oil painters, because I work in a grocery store, so you can trust me when I tell you he is extremely talented. Actually, his works are owned by some pretty prominent collectors, so you don’t have to believe me.
I have wanted to have some of Alex’s art in our home for several years to go along with the other local artist we have works by, including several by my own father, but for various reasons it just hasn’t happened. I knew for sure I was going to come home with one of his paintings after this show, but someone had beaten us to the ones that Erica and I had liked the most. We will show up early to his next show so we can get first dibs on his full portfolio of works.
I know Alex’s parents are really proud of his accomplishments, and I am proud I know him well enough to share his story with you. Another homegrown talent from our community that is doing great things in his chosen profession! I hope you get a chance to see some of his works if you haven’t already. Just remember I have first dibs on his paintings at his next show!
Speaking of community, the Rocky Hill Christmas Parade is going to happen this year after having to skip last year. In my opinion, this is the biggest event of the year for our community. I think the date for it is December 4th. Everyone loves our parade and looks forward to it every year. The parade just gets bigger and better year after year, and I don’t think this year will be any different. A lot of people donate a lot of their time to plan and execute the parade so a big thank you to them! I can’t wait to see all the fancy cars and decorated floats coming down Northshore Drive. I am even excited about seeing Sam and his friends on their horses… but I’m still not going to let them ride them in the store.
Finally, this Sunday will be my twenty-third wedding anniversary. As you might imagine, it would be challenging to be married to me for more than a few minutes, so you might want to send Erica a nice gift for keeping me off the streets for the last twenty-three years. I guess at this point, she is resigned to all the things that come with the Grocery Life, and I couldn’t be more grateful to her for hanging with me! So, cheers to you Erica!
Thanks for all your kindness and patience as we travel through these crazy times and thanks for letting us be a part of your community!
Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market. I hope everyone had a nice weekend! We had a good weekend at the store.
The last time I wrote, we were in the midst of a lot of equipment breakdowns at the store. It was almost a daily event for several weeks. I am now glad to report, we have had several weeks of no failures so hopefully this will continue!
School has started back for most everyone now. Prior to school starting, it has become tradition that our state gives us a sales tax holiday for school supplies and other things associated with going back to school. This is a weekend long event. This year, the state decided to give food a sales tax holiday, also. It started the same time as the school supply holiday but extended four days beyond that, to the following Thursday. Well, I checked the state website to make sure we had the dates correct for the store. The last thing you want to do is screw up state sales tax when you are in a business. The state frowns on that! I guess I’m okay with sales tax holidays. The state gives up a lot of tax revenue, but if it helps people out, I’m good with it.
Well, while I was on the state website, I noticed there was another sales tax holiday, unbeknownst to me. This one started July 1st and ends in June of next year. So apparently, gun safes and gun safety devices are going to enjoy a sales tax holiday for an entire year. Yes, you read that correctly. Things for education got a three-day holiday, food got a six-day holiday, but gun safes and gun safety devices got a year-long holiday? Now I’m not against guns or guns safes or gun safety devices, but I am against nonsensical sales tax holidays. I think I could have spent the rest of my life thinking up sales tax holidays and would have never thought of that one. Maybe someone could convince me to the merits of this holiday, but I doubt it. I try not to let my mind wander too far from common sense.
Getting back to the store, our biggest challenges right now are labor shortages, inventory shortages, and inflation. I am not very confident that any of these three things are going to get any better anytime soon. If I was guessing, I would think inventory shortages will improve a lot quicker than labor shortages or inflation. I think those two things may be with us for quite a while. Wages have already shown quite an increase, and as businesses continue to compete for those willing to work, they will continue to increase. It’s a good time to find a job or look for a different job. The problem with higher wages is prices go up with them. There’s your long-term inflation. At the end of the day, people will be making more money but their buying power will stay the same, at best. Unless, of course, you are buying gun safes or gun safety devices. You can save money on those until June of next year.
Having done this for thirty-one years now, we have been through inflation, deflation, stagnation, big labor pools and small labor puddles. Somehow, we have always managed to muddle through it so, we will just keep showing up and trying to sell groceries and let the smart people figure out the rest.
Well, my whole family has been vaccinated now. I don’t know this for sure, but I was told we now have a chip inside of us, and Bill Gates is tracking our every move. That seems redundant to me since the whole world is tracking our every thought and move since we all carry phones in our pockets. I don’t think I even care if someone is tracking me. Matter of fact, they could just call me, and I will tell them what I do every day: go to work, go home, do a lot of yard work, sometimes fish, sometimes play golf, eat, and sleep. I did put a new battery in my truck Friday, and I had to add air to one of my wife’s tires this morning. That may peak their interest! Anyway, we all decided getting the vaccine was the best thing for our health and the health of our community, so we chose to do it.
Speaking of the health of our community, Dr. Martha Buchanan recently resigned as the Director of the Knox County Health Department. I have known Martha for several years. One, as a customer and secondly, because the store falls under the jurisdiction of the department she oversaw for many years. She has been a great asset to me and my business for all those years due to her commonsense approach on how the Health Department partners with businesses in our community to make it a safer place. She has also been invaluable to the store during this pandemic, guiding us in the safety measures to keep our staff and customers in a safe environment.
Prior to her, I always felt that the Health Department treated us as their enemy and went out of their way to make running our business difficult, but she changed that approach. I firmly believe that she has a heart for this community and the health of all of its members and based all of her decisions on that using a commonsense approach, not the politically expedient ones that most seem to be using. I will miss having her leadership on a professional level but hope she stays in this community because I value her as a customer, a friend to the store, and a friend to this community! Good luck in your future endeavors, Martha!
I hope everyone has a great week! Thank you for your continued support through these challenging times and thanks for letting us be a part of your community!
Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market. I hope everyone had a nice weekend. I haven’t written in several weeks, so I wanted to take a moment to catch everyone up on the Grocery Life.
The last time I wrote, I was in the midst of a pretty serious case of Diverticulitis. After a whole lot of medicine and some good clean living, I seem to be fully recovered from that episode. I got back to work just in time for everything at the store to start going wrong.
We have had all sorts of equipment problems over the last thirty days and continue to struggle to get them resolved. I am sure you have noticed, when you have been in the store recently, that whole sections of refrigerated and/or frozen foods have been empty. We have always had to do maintenance and repair on our equipment just like you have to at your home or on your vehicle. The problem now is you can’t find parts or replacements in a timely manner, so things just have to sit empty until you can locate them, or they can be manufactured. On top of that, when you do get something repaired, the supply chain for the groceries to put back in the equipment is still a mess, so it takes a while to get them filled back up. We are still only receiving about sixty percent of what we order every week from our suppliers.
While we have all seen the toll COVID has had on human lives over the last year and a half, we are now seeing the effects of essentially shutting down the world for the last year and a half on manufacturing and distribution around the globe. The largest car companies in the world can’t make enough cars because they are lacking parts, and neighborhood grocery stores can’t keep equipment running for the same reasons. I imagine most everyone has run into similar problems if they have tried to buy or fix anything recently?
I would love to tell you everything will be fixed tomorrow, and we will be running full steam ahead, but the reality is things just don’t happen in a timely fashion like they did pre-COVID. I can assure you that our staff and the folks we use for maintenance and repairs are working as hard as they can to get us back to normal. It has been a very frustrating and tiring month for all of us at the store. We have spent most of our time loading, unloading, reloading, being mad, unloading, reloading, sleeping, unloading, loading, crying, unloading, and reloading food out of broken and repaired cases than we have anything else. Yesterday, just for a change of pace, I decided to clean the bathrooms and mop the floor. That was kind of therapeutic! That’s the part of having a small business that’s very expensive and not much fun. It will sure be nice to get back to normal here at the store and in the rest of the world, for that matter! Until then, we will continue to practice patience.
On a brighter note, we did just install some more new refrigerated cases last Wednesday. We have been waiting months for those. It was strange having an installation crew installing new equipment and a repair crew repairing other equipment all at the same time. I will say it is a lot more fun loading, unloading, and reloading product when it is going into a brand-new case!
We have also been waiting on some fixtures for our Deli/Bakery and Produce areas to improve those areas and, “knock on wood”, some of those changes will start taking place this week. I probably wouldn’t have planned all these new things had I known the situation we were going to run into with at present. It has blown my budget all to pieces, so hopefully my kids won’t outgrow their clothes anytime soon.
Lastly, we started our cooking classes with Barbara Tenney back up in June, after not doing them for a year. They have all been selling out pretty much the day the schedule comes out. We are slowly adding more classes and capacity to them, but we are not up to full speed yet. Barbara has been thrilled to be back doing those and for all the support you have shown to her and them.
I am learning the hard way that I am going to have to slow down and be a lot more cautious in my planning and decision making, because the environment we are in now is so unpredictable. The crystal ball I have always used to predict things apparently got broken during this pandemic, and I am pretty sure parts will not be available for it ever again. Hopefully, in the coming days, all of our challenges will get resolved and we can get back to being a neighborhood grocery store serving a community. That’s the fun part of our job! Until then, I will just keep writing patience on the chalkboard five hundred times a day.
Thanks again for your support and patience and for letting us be a part of your community!
Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market! I hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day weekend! The weather was kind of off and on all weekend, but Monday turned out nice.
So, last week I wrote about Regas Seasoning and I guess, by default, Regas restaurant. I put out a challenge to find Regas Seasoning and wouldn’t you know, the next morning, a customer came in and brought me a bottle of Regas Seasoning she had bought from the same place I found it. I guess I owe her a couple of Kurobuta pork chops. I also received a lot of feedback about Regas restaurant. Several people sent me stories about their fond memories of going to Regas.
I would have to say my memories of going to Regas as a kid are split about fifty-fifty between fond and not so fond. It has nothing to do with the restaurant, it was more to do with the company I was with. You see, the only time we went to Regas was with family on special occasions. Sometimes, it was with relatives I liked and other times it was with relatives I didn’t really want to be around. Either way, we were going to Regas, and we were going to act like we enjoyed it, even if I was miserable half the time. I guess that was one of the first life-lessons my parents taught me; you do what you gotta do to keep peace in the family.
Well, this has been an interesting week for me. Monday started with Memorial Day, which was a workday for us at the store. Holidays are always good days to work because everyone seems a lot more relaxed. That goes for staff and customers, so it makes for a pretty stress-free day.
Tuesday, I went to a funeral. My friend’s father passed away, so my family and I went to the funeral. After the service, I ran into the preacher from my church, and he told me the last thing you want to hear from your preacher. “I want to come out to the store tomorrow and visit with you. Will you be there in the afternoon?” Well, I was trapped. I’m always here on Wednesdays and, at the spur of the moment, I couldn’t think of a good excuse to get out of the visit. Honestly, what was blocking my thought process was the image of Jesus going into the temple only to find that they had turned it into a marketplace full of merchants and money changers. He then proceeded to turn over all the tables, condemned them, and ran them out of the temple. I didn’t think the store or I fit that description, but when you are raised a Baptist, you always have a healthy fear of God’s judgment, and it just follows that you fear your preacher‘s judgment. I sure wasn’t looking forward to the chance he might come into the store and start wrecking all the displays and condemning me. I just feel a lot safer and more comfortable if I only see the preacher at church on Sunday. I ended up spending the rest of Tuesday evening with preacher and condemnation anxiety and preparing for my day of judgement on Wednesday.
Well, as luck would have it, I was either awakened or I woke up at five in the morning with the inside of my body on fire and the Grim Reaper at my bedside. I fought the Reaper off long enough to go drink about a gallon of water and find the numerous thermometers we have at the house. We have taken our temps at home most every day since COVID started, so we have quite a few around the house. None of them ever read the same so you kind of just have to take the average of all of them. This morning, they were all conclusive; I was hot. After considering my options, I did what any smart person does when they feel like they are dying. I laid down on the couch and hoped I would feel “all better” in a little while. I guess that’s a guy theory because, when my wife got up and found me on the couch, she asked what was wrong. I told her I felt like I was dying so I thought I would lay down a little while until I felt better. Her response, in so many words, was that was a bad idea. So, after some discussion, I told her I would take a shower and if I felt well enough afterwards, I would head to work but go by my doctor’s office on the way there. Otherwise, she could take me to the ER.
I felt a little better after getting cleaned up, so I headed to the doctor on my way to work. I actually go to the doctor’s office just down the sidewalk from the store, so it made it easy. I didn’t have an appointment, but most all of the people that work in the shopping center know each other and are willing to do favors for you when you need one, so they got me worked in quickly with a nurse and physician’s assistant. After some testing, they decided I had a urinary tract infection and either a kidney stone or diverticulitis or all maybe three. They would know more when they got the results back from my blood work, and they were scheduling a CT scan for further clarification. They did give me a big shot while I was there for good measure. I don’t even know what the shot was for, but at that point in my suffering, if they had clubbed me in the head, I would have probably been okay with it. Assuming the shot would soon make me feel better, I asked them if I could go on in to work, and they gave me the same look my wife had given me earlier that morning. The two options they gave me were, go immediately to the hospital or go home and lie perfectly still until we call you. I chose going home, of course. After lying perfectly still at the house for a while, the doctor’s office called me to let me know I was scheduled for my CT scan at three-thirty that afternoon. Not long after that call, the financial office from UT hospital called to confirm the appointment, told me it was going to cost four hundred dollars after insurance, and are you going to pay for it. That sounded like a trick question to me (we don’t ask that question at the store). I couldn’t think of anyone else that might want to pay for it for me, so I said yes. That seemed to satisfy her. Then came the next trick question. How are you going to pay for it? After some thought, I went with “money”. I guess that worked because she said we will see you at three-thirty.
When it came time to go, I was beyond the point of driving safely, so my wife took me. We went in to register and, after my name and date of birth, they asked me if I was going to pay for it. I was ready this time and said yes. You guessed it; the next question was how? This time I changed up my answer to a question; how do you want to be paid? Her reply, cash, check, or credit card. I gave her a credit card, and I was in. In hindsight, I am wondering if you answer no, do they do it for free?
Shortly thereafter, they called me back to get the scan. She told me it would take about four minutes. So, I laid down on a table and you ride into a tube, hold your breath and then you ride back out. About the time you catch your breath, you ride back into the tube, hold your breath, then ride back out, and then it was done. They said they would send the results to my doctor immediately, and I was on my way. That ride through the tube turned out to be about one hundred dollars a minute, after insurance, which I think is about how much it cost me a minute to take the family to Disney World to ride the rides the last time we went there, so I guess that was a fair price.
We were not home long before the doctor’s office called to tell me I had a severe case of diverticulitis. They prescribed me two medications to take for the next ten days and wanted me to come in the next morning for more blood work and a consultation from my doctor. Meanwhile, I was to continue to lie perfectly still.
The next morning, my wife took me to the doctor for my consultation and test. She sat in on the meeting with the doctor. I guess she knows I listen to everything but choose to only hear what I want to hear. She hears everything! I did hear one thing the doctor said that resonated with me. It went like this, if I didn’t follow his strict instructions, they would probably end up cutting me wide open and start taking out bad parts. I think my wife heard that part too because she had been watching me like a hawk ever since we left the meeting. Well, that was Thursday and I think today is Saturday. I’ve lost track of time, which is easy to do after a few days, when you just sit or lie still all day long. I did go to work yesterday and sat still there for a couple of hours just for a change of scenery. I don’t know if they were glad to see me, but I was sure glad to see them! I am feeling better and better every day and hope to be back to a more normal way of life next week?
As you have probably noticed by now (if you haven’t fallen asleep), when I am bored, heavily medicated, on a diet of mush and water and having to sit still all day, I write really long stories that have nothing to do with anything, much less the grocery store. On top of that, I managed to drag my faith, preacher, wife, family, and healthcare providers into this story, as well. I know I have poked a little fun at them in this story, but I am very grateful and blessed to be surrounded by people and organizations that take the time to give me care, kindness, and love!
I guess that should be the goal for all of us, and I hope we offer you a little of that when you come to the grocery store. I am sure we fall short on occasion. Not because I am not surrounded by great teachers and examples; more because I need to be a better student. I need to listen to everything and not just hear what I want to hear.
I am going to another funeral on Monday to celebrate the life of another friend’s mother. This one is at a Presbyterian church. I don’t know much about the Presbyterian denomination; do they judge and condemn like the Baptists do? I just want to be prepared. I don’t need another week like last week.
I hope everyone has a great weekend and thanks for letting us be a part of your community!
Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market! I hope everyone is having a good week!
Well, it has been hotter than Georgia asphalt this week. I guess summer is upon us just in time for the holiday weekend. Also, just in time for the holiday weekend, cicadas have invaded my yard. Those things fly around like a bunch of drunk sailors! They have big red eyes, but I’m not sure they can see or maybe they don’t like me. Every time I’m doing something outside, they just fly into me, and they always go for my face. It seems after they fly around and bump into things for a while, they all land and die in my driveway. They have done a good job of seeing that I guess!
We have a new ad starting in the store Sunday. As I have mentioned before, it has been challenging to put together ads for the store due to short supply on items and increasing cost on others. It’s the old supply and demand thing that Dr. Tony Spiva taught me in Economics 101 at University of Tennessee back in the day. Back then, it was a pretty cut and dry theory, but when you throw in a pandemic, it becomes a little more complex. The old X and Y axis graph we used to figure supply and demand probably requires a COVID line on it to teach today…and that line is probably as erratic as the flight of a cicada.
Anyway, one of the things we are putting in the ad next week are Kurobuta pork chops. As of this writing, we think supply is okay with those. This is one of the most popular items in our meat department, so if you have never tried them, next week would be a good time to. Those of you that have had them know why they are so popular. We used to eat them quite a bit at our house but have slowed down on them in the last year. Not because they aren’t just as good, but because we ran out of my favorite spice to season them with. We haven’t been able to get any more at the store nor have we found any on the rest of the earth. I’m talking about Regas seasoning. This is a local seasoning that is very popular. I guess it was developed by Regas restaurant, which was probably the most popular restaurant in Knoxville before it closed. I guess if I looked around my house hard enough, I could probably still find a box of matches from Regas restaurant. It’s kind of weird to think, but back then, it seemed like all the restaurants gave out matches with their names on them. I guess they had ashtrays on all their tables and cigarette machines in their lobbies as well. I can just imagine what would happen if somebody lit up a cigarette while they were eating in a restaurant now? Apparently, cigarettes and ashtrays on tables were irritating enough to remove so they have been replaced by scan codes which are even more irritating to me.
Erica and I went to eat with another couple the other day. We went to a restaurant I have never been to before and when we were seated, they didn’t give us menus. I looked around on the walls to see if the menu was on a sign somewhere, no luck. I think my wife finally realized the blank stare on my face and told me I had to take my phone and take a picture of a weird looking square on the table and the menu would pop up on my phone. Well, it worked! All of a sudden, a menu popped up on my phone which brought me to the next problem. Words that were designed to be on at least an eight by eleven piece of paper were crammed onto my little phone. I don’t see well, so I had to expand about every word on my phone to read them. Then I had to shrink it and go to the next word. That only took forever! I finally just picked something without looking at the whole menu out of frustration.
The other frustrating thing to me was we were with this other couple that was new to town and were trying to get to know each other. But instead of conversation, we all had our heads buried in our phones trying to pick our meal. Eventually, we ordered, had a nice meal, and enjoyed getting to know our new friends. Then came the check, which was a piece of paper with one of those funny squares on it and a total. This time I took a picture and then you had to sign up for something before you could pay. I thought, the heck with this and paid with cash. I guess that was okay, l left before they could refuse it. I guess technology is the way the world works now, even in restaurants, but I would almost prefer everyone dragging on a cigarette, conversing, and sharing the ashtray on the table as to taking a picture of a square and burying my head in a phone. Kind of like my memories of going to Regas.
Back to the Regas seasoning. Due to illness and whatever else, they have not produced the seasoning in over a year, and we and everyone else have been out of it for about that same period. I have reached out to the folks that make it through various channels and have even offered to buy the rights to it just to get it back into the market but have had no success. To this day, at least one customer asks for it on a daily basis, so the demand remains strong for it. Well, the other day I was needing a part for something and went to a store to see if they had it. While I was in there, I spotted some Regas seasoning on their shelf. Two bottles to be exact. I asked the owner, one, how she has it and two, if she would sell me both bottles. She was squirrelly on how she had it, but she agreed to sell me both bottles on the shelf. I now have two bottles at home after searching the earth for the last year. She had to order the part I was looking for and when I went back the next day to pick up the part, there were three more bottles of Regas seasoning on the shelf. She saw me glaring at them and immediately told me those were her last three bottles and I had all of the seasoning I was going to get, so I didn’t push it.
I’m not going to divulge where the last three bottles of Regas seasoning on earth are located because I want to stay on good terms with all the businesses I do business with. I will tell you it is a locally owned business in the greater Rocky Hill area, and you wouldn’t really think to go there to buy spices, or at least I wouldn’t. I used to love going on scavenger hunts back when you had to make fun out of nothing, so maybe someone that enjoys them also could organize a scavenger hunt to find the Regas seasoning. I’ll even make a deal with you. If you find it and bring it to me with a receipt, I will buy you two Kurobuta pork chops to go with it! I know there are only three bottles left, so I guess I can’t go broke doing that! Good luck with your search!
Meanwhile, I may invite our new friends to the house for some pork chops and good conversation. No phones and no smokes, but maybe I will light the grill with some matches from Regas!
Have a great weekend and thanks for letting us be a part of your community!
Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market. I hope everyone had a nice Mother’s Day and is having a good week. The weather has been weird, we have had about every season of the year in one week. It is a beautiful, sunny day today, maybe we can get a few in a row.
So, all week, people in Teslas have been pulling up beside me in my truck, laughing and pointing at me and my truck. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, and it wasn’t any of the people I know who own Teslas. I would just wave and smile back, hoping not to start any trouble with strangers on the road. Well, yesterday morning, I needed gas on the way to work, and all the gas stations were out of gas. It turns out the Southeast is out of gas. Then I thought, that’s why the Teslas are making fun of me. They knew I was going to be out of gas soon with nowhere to go. Once again, I was late to the party on this information, and the joke’s on me. I am sure they are enjoying getting the last laugh over everyone panicking about gas. Guess it’s a good time to own a Tesla!
A customer emailed me last week inquiring about beef tenderloin. She wanted to know when it will be on sale again. We try to put it on sale quite often, since it is such a popular item for us. This year has been a different story. Beef prices have been high with little relief in sight. I do want you to know we ask our suppliers every week if they can work out a deal for us on beef tenderloin, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. I did talk personally to our largest tenderloin supplier a while back and reminded him of all the business we have given him over the years, especially during the Christmas season. I thought for sure he might try to work out a favor for us. He said he would check on it for us. Well, I never heard anything back from him, and then he came by the store the other day. I figured he came by to tell us about the deal he had on tenderloin for us. Nope, he just came by to tell us he was retiring and to say goodbye. I guess the joke’s on me again! I wish him the best on his retirement, but we are back to the drawing board on beef tenderloin prices!
Last week I mentioned we are starting cooking classes back up in June. We are starting out with only one class a week in June and limiting the class number to 12 people, instead of 16. Apparently, there was a lot of pent-up demand for the classes, because two of the classes are already full, and the other two are filling up fast. This all happened before we had a chance to officially post the classes on our website, which we will do along with this letter. I apologize that not everyone will be able to get in a class that wants to for June. Maybe in July we can offer more classes with higher capacity. I know Barbara is excited about getting started back and is looking forward to seeing you in class!
On another note, I got the chance to play golf last Friday. I was invited to play in a tournament to benefit Bearden High School. As you might expect, I’m not a stellar golfer nor was I a stellar student when I attended Bearden, which probably explains why I sell groceries in Rocky Hill for a living instead of something like starting Tesla, the most popular electric car in the world.
Regardless of my outcome, Bearden has produced a lot of folks that have become leaders in their field, one of which is Chris Sparkman. He owns a winery in Washington state. He grew up right here in Rocky Hill, and I was in school with him at Bearden. I don’t know this for sure, but I would guess he was not a stellar academic student at Bearden either. I do remember he always did well with the girls. I would often see him at Rocky Hill ballpark when we were growing up. He would always have the pretty girls chasing him around, and I was always stuck playing butts-up against the concession stand wall with the rest of the guys the girls weren’t interested in. That made him a stellar student in our eyes. We were much more interested in girlfriend count than GPA.
I didn’t keep up with Chris after high school and lost touch with his family until I started working at the store many years later. Chris’s father and brother are both architects, so when I decided to build a house, I called them to help me with design work. Sometime during this process, they let me know that Chris had become a wine maker. I didn’t think much of it at the time because I wasn’t a wine drinker and grocery stores couldn’t sell wine at the time, as well. Moving forward several years to 2016, the laws changed, and grocery stores began to sell wine, ours included. I still am not a wine drinker, but I am a big advocate for local businesses and other businesses that have a local connection, especially if I can promote their products in the store!
When it came time to stock our shelves in the wine section, I remembered Chris was a wine maker. Even though I didn’t know the first thing about wine in general, much less his, I knew I wanted to sell Chris’s wine because I had a connection to him, and he was a local guy even though he lives in Washington now. I found out who the distributor was for his wine and found out they were not as interested in supporting his wine as I was, so it was very difficult to get any. I was frustrated with this, so I decided to do some research on Sparkman Cellars, which is the name of Chris’s winery. I figured the only reason the distributor wouldn’t support a winemaker from our hometown is because the wine was not good enough to support? Well, after research, I discovered Sparkman Cellars is a highly acclaimed winery. Some of his accolades and awards include “Top 100 Winery in the World”, “produced more than 100 wines scoring 90 points or better”, “rising star”, “#21 in Top 100 Wines in 2016”, and, to top that, he and his wife were on the cover of one of the most respected wine magazines in the country. That’s like making the cover of “Rolling Stone”, for wine makers.
After discovering this and getting nowhere with the distributor for Sparkman wines, I decided to call Chris to see if he could help. Well, between the two of us we convinced the distributor to order in some of his wine for me to sell. I now may have one of the most complete selections of Sparkman wines of any wine retailer around. I even put it on its own display piece in our wine section! Ironically, his best-selling wine in our store is a Cabernet named Holler. It was named after Red Holler, which is the holler across the street from the store that Wrights Ferry Road runs through (that’s about as local as it gets). While I am proud of the fact that I finally have a great selection of Sparkman wines in the store, I am more proud of maybe being a small part in the story of a local guy that had a dream of starting an independent business, with a focus on family and community, and making it happen to great success. That is a very familiar story for lots of folks like me, and I love having the chance of sharing it with you!
Sparkman Cellars is and will be a successful winery regardless of if I sell his wine or not, so that’s not really the point of Chris and I working so hard to acquire it for the store. I think the real story is found when you recognize and appreciate the talent that our community and local schools have produced, and you proudly display it for all to see. This may be in the form of a parade, a trophy case, or the name on a building… or maybe on a small wine display in an independent, local, family-owned grocery store in Rocky Hill.
Thanks for your business and thanks letting us be a part of your community!
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!
Good afternoon from Butler and Bailey Market.
I hope everyone is having a good week! I have not written in quite a while, I’m not quite sure why. Probably because I have been in a constant state of irritation for the last twelve months. I can’t speak for everyone, but I am around a lot of people every day, and it seems most people are in the same boat. Hopefully, we are turning the corner on this pandemic, and I can get back to only being irritated about normal things instead of pandemics.
I did get my first vaccine shot last Saturday. The irony of that is I got it at Kroger. It seemed odd to me that the only place I could get an appointment at the time for a global pandemic is at a grocery store! A competitor at that! Anyway, after my shot, they wanted me to wait around a few minutes to make sure I didn’t have a reaction, so I decided, since they were nice enough to give me a vaccine, I would buy a few items while I was there. I shopped around in the pharmacy area and picked up some vitamins, razor blades, and things like that, and when my wait time was up, I went to check out. Well, the price I thought I was going to pay was not the price I was charged. It turns out you have to have some kind of card that says “Kroger” on it to get the price you think you are going to pay. That would be one of those normal irritations that I run into in everyday life.
We don’t have cards here at the store with our name on them because they irritate me and, at the end of the day, I get to decide. One of my goals here at the store is to irritate as few people as possible, so if I think cards irritate one other person walking the earth besides me, the choice for me not to have them is a simple one. Joking aside, I do appreciate the fact that Kroger was nice enough to provide me a vaccine!
As for the vaccine, in the very unscientific polling I have done with the people I run into on a daily basis, I would say about a third of them are not interested in getting the vaccine. I have heard a myriad of reasons for this. Some have logic to me, and some don’t.
Another poll I am conducting is how many people want to receive all these free checks that our government is sending out. About 100% of the people polled want these. Free money = 100%, Free Vaccine = 65%. My suggestion to equalize this number would be, no vaccine = no free money. Everyone still has a choice about getting the vaccine; they just wouldn’t get any free money until they did. I think the government would be money ahead to, in essence, pay people to get the vaccine. I also think a lot of people would decide the vaccine is OK after all…if they got a check for it. Then, in theory, we could all get back to work and school, and they would not need to keep sending out checks in perpetuity.
Maybe by the time I go back to Kroger to get my second and final vaccine shot, I will get a card that says “Vaccinated”, and I can send it to the government, and they will send me a check! I’m all about free money. I have a bad fishing habit I need to support!
Getting off my soapbox and back to the grocery business, we are slowly but surely getting back to normal at the store. We have finally moved our store hours back to pre-COVID hours. We are open from 8:00am-9:00pm Monday thru Saturday and 10:00am-9:00pm on Sundays. We are closed this Sunday for Easter. I also talked to Barbara Tenney this week, and we are about ready to start cooking classes again. We have not had these since the pandemic started. I want to see how vaccinations go in the coming weeks, but we are going to shoot for May or June to get those classes started back up.
If you have been in the store recently, you might have noticed we have installed a brand new floor. I think it turned out great! I was planning on doing this right after we installed our new meat cases 14 months ago, but all my plans went by the wayside 13 months ago! Oh well, better late than never.
I’m glad we are starting to get back to planning ahead and all the other things that went on hold for a year! It has been a hard year for all of us, but we are a resilient bunch here in Rocky Hill. I think the world could take notes on how well this community has handled this pandemic!
We look forward to the coming months when maybe we will be able to see the smiles on each other’s faces instead of the COVID Fatigue in all of our eyes.
Thanks for all of your support, and thanks for letting us be a part of your community!