Cans & Coins

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is doing well!  Everything is going good at the store.  We are all still enjoying good health, so I guess the measures we’ve taken over the last four months have been successful, or we are just real lucky.  Either way, I will take it!

Business continues to be good.  The supply chain for certain things has not caught up yet on various items, but we seem to have all adapted to using different products in the meantime.  One weird thing that is suffering greatly right now is cans.  Specifically, aluminum cans that soft drinks and beer come in.  You may have noticed certain varieties of each have been missing from the shelves for a while.  The companies all have the products, they just don’t have anything to put them in.

Another weird thing is coins.  Apparently, there is a big shortage on coins, which isn’t a big deal to the average person but for the store, it is huge.  We make change hundreds of times a day, so we use a lot of coins.  The bank recommended we round up or down to the nearest dollar if we run out of coins.  Somebody loses on that deal every time, and I’m pretty sure that somebody would be me.  I’m not going to tell customers I’m rounding their bills up!  Also, the way my luck goes, most of the transactions would land on fifty cents, so then which way do you round?  I guess you could flip a coin for it but…we wouldn’t have any coins to flip!  That would put you playing rock, paper, scissors for it, which would probably hold up the line, making every customer waiting behind this process mad.  So, we would end up rounding down every time and, in a business that just makes pennies on the dollar in the best of times, that’s problematic.  Maybe the bank that gave me that great suggestion will make up the difference?

Well, tomorrow starts the mask mandate countywide.  In my discussions with Martha Buchanan, I figured this was coming. I mandated masks for all of our employees several weeks ago, so not a whole lot is going to change for us.  That will not be the case for a lot of other folks.  I would say right now about sixty percent of our customers wear masks in the store and forty percent don’t.  I will be the first to tell you, I’m not looking forward to this next phase.  People are adamant for and against mask, and, after four months of being right in the middle of this virus mess and all the controversy surrounding it, I’m not real excited about being in the middle of this one.

I will tell you that it will make our staff’s lives a lot easier if you will have a mask on when you are shopping in the store.  We wear them eight hours a day, which is no fun, so I don’t think it is too much to ask if you will wear one the few minutes you are shopping.  My staff and I are not going to be the “mask police”, but I am pretty sure you will be reminded and shamed about a mask if you do not have one on.  I can show you a lot of emails where I have been reminded and shamed over things concerning this virus over the last four months, if you don’t believe me.  My staff can tell you stories, also.  

Tomorrow, you will see signs on the doors about the new mandate.  You will also see masks on a hanger, at the front of the store.  You are welcome to take one to use, if you don’t have one.  I want to make this as easy as possible for everyone, so please help us out by following the mandate.

Have a great Fourth of July weekend and thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

Extended Store Hours

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.  

I hope everyone is doing well!  I am happy to report we are all doing well here at the store.  I have gone “radio silent“ for the last several weeks.  It is not because I don’t have a lot to say.  I would like to think it’s because I’m smart enough not to say it.

I do want to let you know we are changing our store hours starting this Sunday, the 21st.  We will now be open seven days a week until 8:00 pm.  So, Monday through Saturday we will be open from 9am to 8pm and on Sundays, 10am to 8pm.  It has been quite the journey to get to this point!

In a lot of ways, I would just like to forget the last several months.  The problem with that is, I wouldn’t have the memories of all the positive things that I have come to realize because of them. 

I wouldn’t know how strong, resilient, and caring our staff is at the store.  It’s one thing to do a good job in normal times; it’s another thing to do it with a life-threatening virus coursing through the world.  I couldn’t be prouder of them!

I wouldn’t know how far reaching this community extends.  We have received cards, letters flowers, food, masks, gloves, sanitizer, and all kinds of other care packages from perfect strangers that don’t live near or shop in the store.  They just knew of us and cared enough to go out of their way to show us how much they appreciated us being here.

I certainly knew how special our customers and the Rocky Hill community are, but I didn’t know the extent of it.  Just like our staff, they have gone over and beyond to rally around this store and community.  From helping to celebrate my mother’s birthday, respecting virus guidelines, and adapting to the ever-changing store hours, limited quantities of inventory, and everyone’s high level of anxiety.  We really appreciate your unwavering support during these times!

Well, go figure!  The power just went out with a store full of people! If it’s not one thing it’s another… I guess I need to go.  Welcome to another day in the Grocery Life!

Thanks for letting us be a part of your community.

Tom Butler

Now Open on Sundays!!

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market!

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend!  We had a nice weekend at the store.  The mood of Rocky Hill seems to be improving, which makes our job a lot easier.

It has been quite the roller coaster ride over the last three months at the store.  I don’t think we have stepped off of the ride just yet, but maybe we are nearing the end…the part where you start slowing down and the rises & falls are not quite as dramatic.  I imagine most everyone’s lives have been similar.

Our staff continues to enjoy good health and is doing a great job keeping the store sanitized.  We have all ruined some clothes, we have so much bleach splashing around this place.  I don’t know about you, but I am tired of smelling bleach and rubbing alcohol all day.

The store is slowly but surely filling up with products again.  We are still struggling to get supply on paper products as well as cleaning products, especially hand wipes, but we get a few more items every week.  With the world starting to get back to activity, I think supply will continue to improve.

Moving forward, we are going to start opening on Sundays this week.  The Sunday hours will be 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.  We will continue to be closed on Wednesdays.  I think our present staff and inventory level can support this change, so we will see how it goes?  I know it will be a lot more convenient for our customers to have an extra shopping day.  So, going forward, we will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day except Wednesday, and Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Please help us spread the word about Sundays!

Finally, this has been an exhausting three months for all of us.  Each of us have had to decide how we are going to cope with the circumstances.  Some have thrown caution to the wind, while others have taken every precaution available.  It has been and will continue to be a delicate balance dealing with each person’s differing expectations as they work and shop in the store.  While I know we have fallen short of people’s expectations on some occasions, I think we have treated everyone with kindness, patience, respect, and understanding.  It may not be medical science, but it seems to have been the right formula for us and our community.

Thank you for all of the positive reinforcement and support you have always given us, especially throughout this ordeal and look forward to brighter tomorrows!

Thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

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

Thinking Ahead

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market. 

I hope everyone is enjoying their newfound freedom!  Based on how it has been in the store the last couple of days, it has looked a lot like a jail break from my perspective.  We love having a lot of business, but the last couple of days have been similar to when this whole mess started. 

As I mentioned earlier this week, I don’t know that anything has changed about this virus, so we all still need to remain vigilant about safety measures.  We are going to continue to keep the same safety measures in place here at the store for the foreseeable future. 

That being said, it is sure good to see some of the other businesses in the shopping center starting to open up.  I have missed seeing all of my fellow small business owners, and friends, for the last several weeks.  I hope everyone will start supporting them as they get going again.  I have had a lot of sleepless nights since this all started, and my business has been thriving.  I can’t imagine what all of them must be going through.  I know this community will rally around them just as you have done for me during these times.  They need us more than ever!

All of the businesses in this community make up the Rocky Hill Business District.  This was organized several years ago, and I think the main reason for it is to plan and sponsor the now “world-famous” Rocky Hill Christmas Parade!  Well I don’t know if it is “world-famous”, but it would be if we were not trying to keep it our “little secret” in this community.  Anyway, that is one of the many ways the businesses in this community lend their support to this community, so we all need to make sure we show them the support they need now!

Now, about the Christmas Parade, I saw one of the many parade organizers in the store the other day, and the parade came up.  She told me she wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to do the parade this year, because of all this mess.  Well I say, we have to have the parade.  The government might take away our Bill of Rights, but they can’t take away the Rocky Hill Christmas Parade!  I will be glad to provide mask and gloves to everyone, if it comes to that.  I will even get masks for Sam’s horses, if need be, and I don’t even like horses!

Maybe that should be our goal?  Maybe, the parade could serve as the signal that everything is back to normal in Rocky Hill.  Let’s all get behind our local businesses and help them get back on their feet, as they start back up, so they can keep supporting the things that this community values, especially the Parade!

Thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

Slowly Getting Back to Normal

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is having a good week! We are all coming of a day off here, so we are ready to go.  We had a good surprise this morning when we showed up for work!  Our Thursday truck finally showed up on Thursday.  Hopefully, all of these small victories will finally add up to normalcy around here.  I think I can speak for everyone when I say it will be nice to get back to normal!

While our truck today continued to have a lot of outs, we are getting more and more items in from one truck to the next.  The usual suspects are still scarce, paper products, cleaning supplies, and, of course, dry yeast.  Our produce, deli/bakery, and meat departments are still the best stocked departments, but the grocery department is starting to catch up finally.

We are still trying to figure out how to start extending our store hours back to normal, but, as of this writing, we still do not have the available staff to add any new hours.  As I have mentioned before, several of our younger staff members have not worked throughout this pandemic.  Some have started coming back, but, until most of the rest of them are ready, we will continue to limit our hours.

Finally, it looks like things are going to start opening up in the next few days.  While I am glad to see this happening, I am not sure much has changed with the course of this virus.  I want you to know we are going to continue with the safety procedures that we have used since the beginning of this mess.  We will continue to do so until we get the “all safe” word from the Knox County Health Department.

Enjoy your newfound freedoms, and we will see you in the store!

Thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

Trucks & Trims

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is having a good week.  I think at this point, it is safe to say we are going to make it another week here at the store without any major problems.

We did receive our Thursday truck, which now seems to be our Friday truck, this morning.  For the first time since this virus started, we received absolutely ZERO paper products.  We usually order about two hundred cases of paper products every truck and typically receive about twenty cases, but today, it was zero.  Oh well, we will try again for Monday’s truck.  We are receiving good quantities of meat and produce every truck, so we can take care of you on that.  I have heard other grocery stores have lots of paper products but very little meat and produce?  That works perfect for us.  We would rather sell you meat and produce than toilet paper.  I would take a good steak over toilet paper any day.  I don’t know, I may need to think that through a little more carefully.  Anyway, sorry we can’t get everything we need for you, but it is not for lack of trying.

I finally did something yesterday that apparently crossed the line of “not acceptable” during the pandemic.  I have been dodging bullets for the last month trying to make all the right decisions, but that finally came to an end yesterday.  You guessed it!  I got a haircut!  I didn’t think much about it until I walked in to work this morning.  You would have thought I was wearing a scarlet letter.  The staff looked at me like I had three heads and insisted on knowing how I could do that to them when none of them have been able to get theirs’ cut.  Customers have also had a troubled look in their eye when they spot my new haircut.  Several even said they would be glad to wear a mask another three months if they could just get a haircut.  I didn’t know it was going to be such a big deal at the time, but now I have probably ruined the morale of the staff and alienated our customer base.  I’m not going to tell you exactly how I pulled this crime off, but I will tell you it involved my cute little son, my daughter’s chocolate chip waffles, and lots of cash.  You see, the lady that cuts my hair also cuts my son’s hair, and she absolutely loves him.  It turns out she also loves my daughter’s chocolate chip waffles.  I already knew she loved lots of cash.  Anyway, this earned us a house call for Tyson and I to get haircuts. 

Tyson and I have been discussing haircuts for the last several weeks and had both decided to get a totally different cut than we usually do.  I think this pandemic has us all thinking differently. We both wanted to go with a buzz cut since I had the tools at home to do this.  I knew this wasn’t going to work for me, because I have done a buzz cut before and my wife hated me until it grew back.  I then decided I might try the newest trend, which is the “Joe Exotic Cut”.  I figured this one wasn’t going to fly either, but it was worth a try. Nope, she was going to hate me again.

The day finally arrived for our house call yesterday.  I was resigned to getting my normal haircut.  Tyson was still arguing his case to his mother for a buzz cut.  I was the first to go and got my typical boring haircut and my cute, but not so smart son, now has a buzz cut.  He is obviously less scared of his mother than I am of my wife.  He will learn.   Afterwards, our barber and my daughter had some chocolate chip waffles, hot off the griddle, and I handed over lots of cash.  Erica will probably never admit it, but I think she actually likes Tyson’s buzz cut.  He is sure excited about it.  I was excited about mine, too, until I walked into work this morning.

Finally, earlier this week I asked you to help me celebrate my mother’s birthday by emailing her happy birthday wishes.  She already had thirty-one emails from you before she had even read the blog herself Tuesday and realized what was going on.  She woke up Wednesday (her birthday) with another inbox full of emails from you!  When I checked on her yesterday, she was reading the one hundred and twenty-seventh email and they were still coming!  Knowing my mother, don’t be surprised if she writes every one of you back, thanking you.  I bet her notes will have better grammar, correct punctuation, and more appropriate language than mine.  You have given her a great birthday present and I want to share with you part of what she wrote me yesterday when I asked her about the emails.

“…if you ever wonder if there are any good people left in this world all you need to do is walk the aisles of Butler & Bailey….they would make going to work every day the best thing you could ever do! They sure have blessed your old mama!”

I can’t say it any better than that. Thanks for all that you do and thanks for letting us all be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is having a good week!  We are having a good start to our week!  Yesterday was truck day for us.  Our Monday truck has been showing up on Monday, but our Thursday truck continues to be running a day behind, so I assume it will be here Friday.  We are still only receiving about thirty percent of what we are ordering as far as dry goods.  Thankfully, our perishable departments are pretty much getting everything they order.  We did get an extra treat yesterday.  Our specialty foods truck finally showed up!  Apparently, it has been roaming the earth for the last few weeks?  This was from an order that we made a month ago.  Usually it comes in five days, which, I guess, makes it twenty-five days late.  We were supposed to get seven pallets of merchandise, we received three.

We used to call our specialty foods truck our oddball truck.  Several years ago, we started getting requests for lots of organic and gluten-free products.  This was long before they became mainstream items in the grocery industry, or at least in Rocky Hill.  We didn’t know much about those food categories, so we set out to find a distributor to procure them.  We started calling around to distributors, and they would ask us what we were looking for.  The only way we knew how to describe it was “you know, all that oddball stuff that people want”.  As you might imagine, that didn’t get us very far.  I finally ran across someone that had worked in the oddball food industry, so he became our interpreter when we were pursuing a supplier.  With his help, we found a supplier and slowly began to order a few oddball items from them.  Jumping ahead several years, we now sell over a thousand different items from them and have become the biggest independent grocery store account in their portfolio.  So, thanks for the suggestion!  There is still a big learning curve for us on trying to figure out all the things we need in these categories, but we are making good progress.  For example, we don’t call it the oddball truck anymore.

While most of the items we get from them have to do with dietary restrictions or healthier lifestyles, we also get a lot gourmet foods from them.  These would include pastas, rice, marinades, sauces, dressings, and various beverages, just to name a few.  The two most important items we received yesterday were Allegro Meat Marinades and Tate’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I say this for selfish reasons.  The Allegro plays a big part in my beef jerky recipe, and the cookies are my wife’s favorite.  We have done without both at the house for the last month, which may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is at our house.  I will tell you I pulled rank on you and got our supply for the house before we put them out on the shelf for you…perks of being a grocery man!

Moving forward, I want to remind you that we have extended our store hours to 9am to 7 pm on a daily basis.  We will continue to close every Wednesday and Sunday.  Our next move will probably be to open on Sundays.  I want to get a better feel for our supply chain and staff availability before I decide to this, so we will stick to five days for now.

I know I say this every time, but I could not be prouder of a group of people than I am of my staff!  They have done a great job throughout all of this!  We are probably in the most high-risk industry there is, but they keep coming to work with a great attitude, ready to serve you.  They are keeping the store safe for all of us and working as hard as they can to keep the shelves full for you.

I haven’t researched all of this government stimulus real closely, but from what I have heard, most people can just stay at home and come out better financially and, in the case of our business, not be exposed to thousands of people a week.  Obviously, based on that, they don’t have to be here.  They want to be here.  I think it is safe to say, they don’t keep showing up because of me.  They keep showing up because of you and this community!  That says a lot about them, you, and this community!

For the most part, our customers have been super supportive of all of the staff and what they have done to keep us in a safe environment to work and shop in throughout this mess.  We have had a few that have taken out their quarantine frustrations on other customers and more discouraging, towards our staff, especially our younger staff members.

To be perfectly honest, this really pisses me off!  I am super protective of my staff (family) here, so it flies all over me when this happens.  I am the only one here that gets paid to be chewed out.  It is above everyone else’s pay scale.  The staff is here to serve you.  I am here for all other input, so if you feel like chewing someone out, please come and find me or do what I do, mow the yard or go fishing until your frustrations subside.  I will tell you I have done a lot of mowing and fishing the last month.  It seems to help.  They say the pen is mightier than the sword.  Well, some days, I wish I had a sword.  I guess that’s why they only let me have pens around here?

The other reason I try not to stay angry is that it upsets my mother, and then she starts worrying about me.  I know she looks for anything to pass her time while she is stuck at home, so I certainly don’t want to add worry to the list of things to pass her time.  A big reason I write these blogs is to give her something to read to help her with boredom.  I don’t know if they entertain her or put her to sleep, but they occupy her for a few minutes either way.  Another reason I don’t want to worry her is because it is her birthday tomorrow.

She will be a big eighty-five years old.  We will not be able to celebrate with her due to me being around so many people, but I had an epiphany of how to celebrate while writing this.  She will probably kill me for doing this, but you only turn eighty-five once.  It’s not like thirty-nine.

I was thinking we could all write her a birthday note.  Even if you just write “Happy Birthday, Barbara!  Your son is crazy”, it’s the thought that counts.  Her name is Barbara Butler and her email address is:  If she gets a lot of notes, this would sure help with her boredom, especially on her birthday!  I also thought if you took the time to do it, it could help you pass some time also.  So, everybody wins!

I know most of you do not know my mom, a lot of you don’t know me, and have never been in the store either, but that doesn’t keep us from all being a part of this community.  What makes this such a great community is people taking the time to support each other, friends & strangers alike.  I have certainly benefited from this!  Whether my mom likes it or not, she has become a part of the “Grocery Life” in the last month.  I hope she is enjoying it.  That has certainly been my intention in including her.  The “Grocery Life” has sure been good to me over all these years!

I hope you will join me in celebrating my mom’s birthday!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

At Last…Longer Store Hours

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is having a good week!  We have had a good week here!  Everything continues to calm down, and I am hoping this continues moving forward.  Our staff has continued to do a great job with a great attitude, and we have all continued to stay healthy!

I continue to be in contact with Martha Buchanan, with the Knox County Health Department, and she continues to assure me that we are taking the appropriate measures for ourselves and our customers safety in the store.

Moving forward, I am going to make some changes to our store hours.  I am actually going to increase them.  We have been in virus mode for about a month now, so I have a pretty good feel for how the staff is doing and what our capabilities are, as far as serving our customers in the manner that they have become accustomed to.  I have also been able to study the traffic patterns in the store for the last few weeks and can predict pretty closely how each day is going to go.  

I have mentioned on several occasions that the best time to shop without crowds is in the middle of day.  The first hour we are open and the hour before we close have easily become our busiest hours.  I will also tell you that the two busiest hours of the week are the ones that we designate for our high-risk customers. I actually tell my mom not to come for those but to wait a couple of hours after we open before she comes to shop.  I guess what I am trying to say is the changes I made for good intentions have not produced the results I was hoping for.  In light of this, I have decided to eliminate the two high-risk hours we have been having every week.  Crowds are the enemy of all of us, especially the high-risk folks.  So, to me, the risk only increases by having these hours.  We were hoping for the opposite.

I am not smart enough to be right every time, but I am smart enough to change things when I am wrong.  I imagine I will get some hate mail about this decision but trust me when I say grocery stores love crowds so obviously, I am not doing this for the health of the business.  It is for the health of us and you!  I am also going to increase our daily hours.

The new store hours will be daily from 9am to 7 pm.

We will continue to be closed every Wednesday and Sunday.

My goal throughout this mess was, is, and will be to provide our staff and our customers the safest environment I can to work and shop in.  I have done my best to match the capabilities of my staff and our limited ability to get inventory to the volume of customers we have every day.  I feel confident that spreading out our store hours will only enhance these objectives.

Finally, I mentioned several weeks ago that we are in a marathon not a sprint to get to the finish of this virus.  I feel like we are now well into this race, and everyone has settled into a comfortable pace.  We have all been trained to the recommended safety practices and as long as we adhere to these, we will finish this race safer and sooner.

The new store hours will start this Monday, the 20th.  Please help us spread the word!

Thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

The Easter Outfit

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

Another sunny, beautiful day here in Rocky Hill.  The sun continues to shine on all of us here at the store.  Everyone continues to stay healthy; attitudes are great, and we are all looking forward to the day this virus comes to an end!  We are going to continue with our present store hours next week. They are as follows:

We are open daily from 10am until 6pm.

We are closed on Wednesday and Sunday.

Every Tuesday and Saturday from 9am to 10am is designated for the higher risk people.

I know these hours are not the most convenient for some of you, and I apologize.  I am pretty confident that our next adjustments for hours of operation will be to increase them instead of a reduction.  In the meantime, let’s just keep washing our hands and not touching our faces!

When I was getting ready for work today, I decided to wear my Easter outfit to work  since we will not have a church service to go to tomorrow.  I guess I am probably too old to still call it an “ Easter outfit”, but that is what we called it growing up.

Every Easter, my mom would tell my brother and I it was time to go get an Easter outfit.  I can’t really remember if I was for this or against this, but like it or not, that is what we were going to do.  I do remember the place we went to pick out our outfit was Crenshaw’s in the Bearden Shopping Center. This was a children’s clothing store and, short of making your own clothes, about the only place around here to buy children’s clothing back then.  So, off we would go, mom with her two boys in tow. I don’t remember if mom picked out our outfits or we got to pick them out ourselves.  I do remember powder blue and powder yellow leisure suits were usually the choice.  I am not sure which one of us wore what color, but I am pretty sure my brother and I had to have a fight to decide it.  We liked to fight about anything we could think of.  I will tell you, regardless if I won the fight or not, I looked better in mine than he did in his!  Take that, big brother!

Once we had picked out our new clothes, our next stop was Coffins shoe store, which was right down the sidewalk.  You certainly couldn’t go to church in a new leisure suit without having a new spiffy pair of shoes to go with it.  Coffins is still doing business in Bearden and, yes, I was in there not long ago, getting a new pair of shoes.  I know they are in their third generation as a family business, and it may be four.

I liked going to Coffins because I liked getting new shoes.  Back then I don’t think I liked shopping for clothes much, but I never missed a chance to get some new shoes.  There is just something about getting a new pair of shoes.  I think my wife has inherited that trait from me.  Anyways, when we went to Coffins, I knew my mom and Mr. Coffin would have to catch up a little bit before I was allowed to run through the store picking out shoes.  Patience wasn’t my strong suit, but back then, the assumption to a kid was, any adult was allowed to spank any kid anytime they were misbehaving regardless if they were your parents or not.  I don’t know if Mr. Coffin would have spanked me or not, but I am pretty sure my mother wouldn’t have had a problem with it, so I was not about to test it.  I figured since I got spanked at school, at church, and by my friends’ parents, the rules were the same at the shoe store.  Maybe it was the law back then?

Once Mr. Coffin and my mother finished catching up, it was time to pick out some shoes.  The first thing you had to do was have Mr. Coffin measure your feet.  I always based the size of my foot on the particular pair of shoes I wanted.  Mr. Coffin, on the other hand, would determine your foot size and then show you the various styles he had on hand that would fit your feet.  This wasn’t as fun for me.  I always wanted a pair that only came in adult sizes and was willing to go up five or six sizes to make this happen.  That wasn’t going to fly with Mr. Coffin or my mother, so I conformed to the choices given.  Plus, I didn’t want a spanking.

Probably the most enduring memory I have of Mr. Coffin is the story he told me every time I went to get shoes.  When he would crouch down in the floor to measure my feet, he would always tell me he knew my uncle.  I think they were fraternity brothers in college.  I didn’t know my uncle very well, but Mr. Coffin said he was quite the character.  Mr. Coffin told me they would be having a social event at the fraternity and, when things got really wild, my uncle would decide to try to call Bob Hope, the Hollywood star.  I actually think he got through and talked to Bob Hope.  No telling what he had to say to get through to a Hollywood star and who knows what they talked about.   I guess back then, a prank phone call constituted a wild frat party.  Wonder what Mr. Coffin would think about them now?

I can’t remember all of the details of Mr. Coffin’s story about my uncle.  Actually, I don’t think he ever quite finished the story.  His voice would always trail off at the end of it.  It was if he just realized he might should not tell a young boy the ending of such a story about my crazy uncle, especially with my mom standing right there.  Mr. Coffin seemed like a pretty straight-laced guy, so he probably felt sorry for me knowing I was going to grow up with a crazy uncle in the family.  Once Mr. Coffin and I picked out my shoes, my Easter outfit was complete.  Now all I had to do was not mess up my new shoes before the Easter service on Sunday. 

So now you know the story of my Easter outfit.  I know it doesn’t have much to do with the real Easter Story, but as I reflect back while writing this story, I realize my Easter Story evolved out of everyday life.  Somehow through all of those events, l learned what a parent loving their children looks like and what a business caring for their customers looks like.  I also learned how everyone in a community can give you a good spanking when you deserve one but will also wrap their arms around you when you need comfort.  I have also come to learn that everyone has a crazy uncle in their family, so there is no shame in that.

Finally, the most important thing I have learned is, Easter outfit or no Easter outfit, God still loves me the same and always will!

I hope everyone has a great Easter and see you next week!

Thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler