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!

Tom Butler

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