The Circle of Life

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is having a good week. I think we are in month seven of the pandemic now, and it looks like this crazy roller coaster ride is going to continue for the foreseeable future. The virus has now stretched from the rural open-air markets of China all the way to the highest office in our land and, as far as I know, everywhere in between.

It seems, we are spending a lot of time and energy trying to assign blame for all that’s happened up to this point.  Maybe we would be better served to use our energy and support for all those trying to bring this pandemic to an end?  Like it or not, we all play a part in this solution, based on what I know about it.

Mr. Bailey used to say, “the cow’s already out of the barn”, meaning you can kick and scream all you want, but it’s not going to solve the problem.  I don’t know about you but kicking and screaming has never paid a bill here at the store.  It may help politicians get elected but solving problems and finding solutions has served us well in the grocery business.  I guess I would be a terrible politician.  Hopefully, I’ve become a decent grocery man?

We are now into the second week of October, so I wanted to update you on some things as we enter the holiday season.  First off, there will be no Rocky Hill Christmas Parade this year.  I was hoping we would be far enough along with the virus to be able to have it, but it hasn’t worked out that way.  The parade committee has so much pre-planning to do to make the parade happen, it just wasn’t going to be feasible under the present circumstances.  They are trying to plan some sort of outdoor event to benefit local charities so the community can still have a positive impact on the holiday season for the less fortunate.  I will let you know when I learn any details about this.

Another tradition in Rocky Hill is our annual Holiday Open House here at the store.  Once again, because of present circumstances, we are not going to be able to do this.  I was tempted to throw caution to the wind and have it.  Thankfully my brain is smarter than my emotions, so I thought better of it.  The staff and I are greatly disappointed in having to make this decision, but we felt like it was the right one.  On that note, I have had a lot of calls and emails about Barbara Tenney’s cooking classes that we have here at the store.  Those will continue to be postponed until further notice.  I know Barbara is looking forward to the day that she can start doing them again and so are we!  Hopefully, that can happen sooner than later!

I am sure you have noticed we are still having problems getting inventory on certain items around the store. That situation has improved a lot, but it’s nowhere near where it needs to be.  For the holidays, I am pretty confident we will have plenty of supply on perishable items like meats and produce.  Our biggest concern is on dry goods.  These would be things like canned goods, spices, canning jars, and various cleaning products.  We have tried to get out in front of these problem areas, but my advice to you would be to go ahead and buy things you will need for the holidays as you find them in our store or any other store you might shop in.  I’m not sure last-minute shopping for the holidays is going to be very promising this year, based on what the industry is telling us.

On a personal note, I have had a couple of heartbreakers this week.  Jack Thomas, one of the longest serving employees we have had at the store, passed away this week.  He was probably the best produce man I have ever seen and one of the finest men I have ever known.  I guess he has worked on and off for us for the last twenty-five years.  Jack was quite the character. Whatever was on his heart or in his mind came out of his mouth.  Most of the time it was gospel music.  Some of you might have been in the store when all on the sudden, a beautiful baritone voice would fill the aisles with gospel music.  There was no chance in trying to put a filter on him.  I would have never tried it anyway.  In his own peculiar way, I think he had life figured out, while most of the rest of us are still working on it. Maybe one day I will always have a beautiful gospel song on my heart!  All of us will at the store will miss him greatly and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

The second heartbreak I had this week was the death of Eddie Van Halen.  He was the founding member and lead guitarist of the band Van Halen.  I didn’t know Eddie, so the heartbreak is more for sentimental reasons.  You see, when I was in junior high school there was this super-hot girl I had a strong interest in, but I was having a hard time trying to grab her attention. She was a grade higher than me, so she was already a woman and I was still a boy.  While this worked against me, I had it in my mind she was going to be my girl.  Well, my opportunity came.  Van Halen was coming in concert and, since all the super-hot girls in junior high school thought Eddie Van Halen was cute and all that, I decided I would buy tickets and ask her to go on a date with me to the concert.  It worked!  I don’t remember the exact circumstances, probably because I was super nervous, but I also invited my best friend to go.

Well, when you go on a date in junior high school, that means your mom takes you.  So off we went, my mom, my friend, and me in the Oldsmobile sedan to pick up my super-hot date.  This was the first time I had ever been on a date, so I don’t guess I realized when you picked up a girl for a date, the parents answered the door and you had to talk to them.  I must have survived that because down the steps came my super-hot date and out the door we went to the Civic Coliseum.  Not only was this my first date, it was also my first rock concert; hers as well.  I think my friend had been to an ELO concert already, so he was up to speed on how rock concerts went.  Back then, you could smoke whatever you wanted inside a building, and you could drink all you wanted as well.  So here I am, trying to take this super-hot girl on a nice date, and all of this is going on around me.  The one good thing was it was so loud, I didn’t have to try to make conversation with her.  At some point we decided we had had enough, so I had my friend keep an eye on my girl while I went and found a pay phone to call my mom to pick us up.  Back to her house we went.  Back to her front door where the parents were waiting.  Only this time I had brought their daughter back to the door, smelling like an ashtray with bloodshot eyes from all the smoke in the building and probably a slight loss if hearing.

I don’t remember our love affair lasting much longer after our first date.  I assume she must not have liked the concert.  It couldn’t have been me?  So, thank you Eddie Van Halen for giving me a shot at a super-hot girl in junior high school and thanks for the memories! You will be missed!

Speaking of super-hot girls, this Saturday will be my twenty-second wedding anniversary with my super-hot wife. I can’t remember exactly how I captured her attention.  It wasn’t a Van Halen concert.  It might have been Chick-fil-A coupons?  I don’t think she really liked me to begin with, but I knew she liked Chick-fil-A, so I had my angle – coupons to her favorite place.  I’m pretty proud I parlayed that into being married to my hot wife for twenty-two years.  I don’t really know why she has stuck with me for so long.  I quit giving her coupons a long time ago.  I will tell you I have always done four things since we have been married.

Here they are in no particular order.  First, every week I put my paycheck in her bank account. Secondly, I have always provided her with all the food and drink she would ever need.  Third, I keep the grass mowed.  And finally, I tell her most every day how lucky I am to have such a super-hot wife.  It may shock you I didn’t read those in a marriage book.  I just came up with them on my own.  So far, they have worked, so you may want to give them a try.

Well, I hope that gets you caught up a little bit on “my grocery life” during a pandemic.  It has been a challenge for all of us this year.  Fortunately for me, I have a great staff here, a great family at home, and great memories of the ones we have lost along the way.  That might just be enough to put a song on my heart!

Thanks to all of you for the support you have given us through this ordeal, as well as all the years before, and thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

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