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

Rolling On Into Easter

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is staying healthy this week!  So far, so good for all of our staff!

I thought we would get our Thursday truck in this morning, but apparently, this week, our Thursday truck is now going to be a Friday truck.  Oh well!  We’ll just keep rolling with the punches.  I don’t know why I get so excited about receiving a truck; we never get what we order anyways.  We carry around 30,000 items in our store.  I don’t know how many items our distributor carries, but they sent an email and said they were out of 70,000 items at the present time.  That sounds like a lot to me, and, by the looks of our store, I believe them.

I start everyday thinking everything will be back to normal, and that usually lasts until I get to work and then reality strikes.  I will say, my wife was very proud of me this morning!  I slept all the way to 6am, which meant she got to sleep until 7am.  The last few weeks, it has been a lot earlier.  I don’t think she really cares how much I sleep, but she does care how much our dogs sleep.  They seem to have an internal clock that tells them that, once I get up, they have to stay quiet for one more hour, and then they are allowed to go nuts in their kennel.  One would think I could let them out and everything would be fine, but they don’t seem to like me.  They want their momma, so they just go to the bedroom door and cry until she gets up.  For some reason, they don’t get in trouble for this behavior, but I do!  Unlike the dogs, I think Erica still likes me, but she seems to like me a lot better the longer I sleep.

Getting back to the grocery store, I want you to know we continue to clean and sanitize everything on a continual basis.  We have run out of the antibacterial wipes that we provide our customers when they come in the store, and none of our suppliers can tell me when more will be available.  In light of this, we are designating employees whose sole job will be sanitizing cart handles and so forth after every use. We have solution for this; we just don’t have any wipes.  I wish we had hand wipes, hand sanitizer, and  rubbing alcohol, among a lot of other things to sell you and to use in the store, but you “can’t get blood from a turnip“ (thank you, Mr. Bailey).

It seems a lot of people have become armchair quarterbacks, when it comes to sharing opinions on how to deal with this virus.  It kind of reminds me of sports talk radio after Tennessee loses a football game.  I would be the first to tell you I am no expert on this virus, which is why I am in constant contact with the Knox County Health Department, as well as others in the medical profession.  I want to assure you that we are doing everything that they tell us to do and will continue to do so.  Those of you that know me and our staff, know that we won’t do anything to jeopardize the health and safety of ourselves and customers, regardless of the business outcome.  It’s just not worth it to us.  Everyone’s fuses seem to be getting shorter, mine included, so that’s my nice way of saying something else.

All things considered, we have had a good week here.  The staff continues to do a great job, and you have continued to give us great support.  I said at the beginning of the week that I was determined to have a good week, and that has happened so far.  We are now going into Easter weekend.  Good Friday is tomorrow, so it is a given that tomorrow will be good.  Saturdays are always good around here, and Sunday we will be observing Easter.  I always get in trouble when I talk about religion and politics (and my wife) in this blog, but as most of you know, I am a slow learner…I will just tell you that Easter is a time of renewed hope for me!  I hope it is a time of positive renewal for you!

I hope everyone has a great Easter!

Thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

Damn the…Nevermind!

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is doing well. We all had a day of yesterday so we are rested and ready to start a new week.

We started our new store hours this morning. We are now opening at 10am and closing at 6 pm. Tuesday and Saturday we will be open from 9am until 10am for our high risk folks. We are still closed on Wednesday and Sunday. This has allowed us to move to one shift a day for our staff which is a big help. We will see how it goes for now  and if need be, continue to adapt to new circumstances as they arise. I do want you to be especially mindful of our new closing  time. We sanitize the store after closing which takes a while so we want to be as prompt as we can on getting the store closed since we are on one shift now.

I talked with Martha Buchanan on Saturday. She is in the store quite often so I have been able to keep in close contact with her since this started. I always discuss with her all the measures we have put in place for safety and ask her for any suggestions for improvement. She assured me we have been taking the appropriate measures to reduce risk for all of us. I will tell you she couldn’t emphasize enough the importance of washing hands and not touching your face!! Washing hands is easy, not touching ones face is much more difficult. Without coming right out and saying it, I am pretty convinced she thinks this is the biggest cause of spread. The easy fix for this would be to cut all of our hands off but I’m not sure how practical that is. That’s why grocery people aren’t in charge of these type of decisions. I will say it helped Singapore’s crime rate.

A few more things about the store. We continue to get asked when the best time to shop is. We are busiest right when we open and late in the afternoon so mid day might be a good time. I also want to remind or let you know that we do have Apple Pay and Google Pay at our registers which gives you a touch free choice for payment. It is pretty easy to set up on your phone. I can tell you this because I did it myself and technology is not my forte. I also want you to know that the antibacterial wipes that we provide to our customers are in short supply. I anticipate running out any day now so if you have wipes, you may want to bring them with you to the store. We make a solution that we use on all the surfaces at the store continuously but I think the wipes give everyone an extra level of comfort. Hopefully, we will find new supplies of these soon!

Finally, I am determined to have a good week at the store this week. I would be the first to tell you that last week was a hard week for me. The anxiety level of my staff was at an all time high and I don’t  think the customers were far behind. On top of that, based on the news, the next couple of weeks were just going to get worse concerning the virus.

Everyone here is my adopted family. I don’t know if I adopted them or they adopted me, but I feel personally responsible  for their well being when they are here. When I see them struggling emotionally  with this mess it becomes a balancing act for me. I have to decide what is best for them and at the same time what is best for our customers and community. Mr. Bailey used to always say “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead”, when times got tough around here. What I have realized going through this, is sometimes you just can’t damn away all the torpedoes and go full steam ahead….you better keep some powder dry. So forgive me for all of the changes we have had to make and may have to make going forward. I am just looking out for the well-being of my folks and in effect the well-being of myself.

Once again, many thanks for all the positive support you have given us the last few weeks! It makes this all worthwhile. We are going to continue to do our best for you going forward even if we have to take a few steps back to do this. We are not going to “damn the torpedoes” but rest assured, I am damning this virus on a continuous basis!

Thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

Changing Store Hours…again

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is staying well!  We have been on a month-long roller coaster ride here at the store, and it looks like it is going to continue for a while.  We seem to get off of the roller coaster just long enough to walk around and get in line again for another ride.

Business has somewhat normalized.  We are usually busy first thing in the morning and then it seems to moderate after being open for a couple of hours.  Our deliveries continue to be a lot more consistent. They are coming on time now, but we still are not receiving the high-demand items with any regularity. It is pretty frustrating to have empty sections of the store day after day.  Maybe that will improve in the coming weeks.

Our staff has done an amazing job throughout this ordeal!  Their attitudes have been great.  They just come to work, put a smile on their face, and get to work.  All of us struggle to get our jobs done when it feels like we are working with one arm tied behind our back, so I appreciate them making the best out of a trying situation.

Moving forward, I am going to make another adjustment to our store hours due to our ever-changing circumstances.  As I have mentioned in previous writings, my job here is to look into the future and try to make decisions now based on what I see coming.  In light of this, we are changing our daily hours.

Starting Monday, April 6th, our new store hours will be from 10am until 6 pm!!  We will still be closed on Wednesdays and Sundays!!  Our senior and high-risk hours will be Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9 am to 10 am!!

The reason I am doing this is to eliminate having to schedule two shifts on the days we are open.  By reducing our daily hours by two hours, I can consolidate our staff into one shift a day, five days a week.  As most of you know, a lot of our afternoon shifts are filled by high school and college students that work part-time.  Due to the virus risk associated with working with the public, their parents are more comfortable keeping them at home.  This has reduced our available staff for filling two shifts a day.  I certainly can’t blame them and look forward to their children coming back to work when all of this is over.  I have had opportunities to hire more people since this started but have decided the best thing for us is to adjust based on the people we have.  I am just not comfortable bringing in new people under present circumstances.

We are all having to make decisions for ourselves, our families, and our jobs and businesses based on our comfort level.  I think this will be the most expedient way to get through this successfully, short of having a crystal ball.

In closing, all of us at the store sure appreciate the support you have given us over the last few weeks!  We have received cards, letters, emails, and even flowers!   We are fortunate and grateful to be able to serve you and hopefully the plans we make now will continue to let us do that until we get through this mess.

Boy, will I be glad when this crap is over!

Please help us spread the word about our new store hours starting Monday.

Thanks for your continued support and understanding… and thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

“Burl’s Bus” – from June 2014

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is doing well!  I am going to do something a little different today with “Grocery Life”.  I am going to do a rerun.  I don’t always have time to write these days, and probably more truthfully, I run out of stories to tell.

As you have probably noticed, I write more about things outside of the store than inside the store. Grocery stores are pretty boring when you get right down to it, so I try to not overwhelm you with store news, just what you need to know.

So, last night I was trying to think of my next topic for the blog while I was flipping channels on the TV, looking for something to watch, and I realized the only things on TV now seem to be reruns from months and years past.  Well, that gave me the idea I needed: start rerunning old “Grocery Life’s”.  I keep a binder at home of old blogs, so I pulled it out and started looking for reruns.  I didn’t realize I started writing these things back in 2014 until I opened it up.  So, I am going to start mixing a few old ones in when I don’t have a fresh topic.  That way, I can still get my mother something to read and stay on good terms with her.  You will just have to disregard any information in them concerning sales or events concerning the store at the time.  The reruns will be for “entertainment purposes” only, and I use that term loosely.

I do want to remind you that tomorrow morning, from 8am until 9 am, will be dedicated to seniors and high-risk customers.   We will also continue our abbreviated store hours this week.  We will be closed on Wednesday and Sunday this week.  Our inventories continue to improve, and we are hoping to receive a pretty good load of groceries tomorrow so, hopefully, we will receive some of the things we have been out of.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy some of the oldies!

This one is from June 26, 2014.

Good morning from Butler and Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is having a good week. Everything is going good at the store this week.

We had a cooking class Tuesday night, and we have another one tonight. Everyone we have had in June has been full and most of the ones in July are almost full.  The one that is not filling up in July is on the 24th, which happens to be my birthday.  Maybe people are afraid they have to bring a present if they come to that one?  Don’t worry about bringing a present.  My son always does something special for me on my birthday.  He takes me to Chuck E. Cheese.  That’s what we did last year, and I am sure he will want to take me again this year.  Tyson loves to go to Chuck E. Cheese, and I guess since he loves it, he thinks everyone must love it.  I do not love Chuck E. Cheese.  I do not even like Chuck E. Cheese, but I love my boy, and he loves his daddy, so wherever he wants to take me on my birthday will be a special present to me.

Another thing happening near the time of my birthday is my thirty-year high school reunion.  I graduated from Bearden High School.  I actually went to Bearden all twelve years.  School zoning was different then because if you lived in the house I grew up in now, you would go to Sequoyah Elementary, Bearden Middle, and West High School.  I kind of like the fact that I got to go to the same school my whole career.  Maybe because I always went to Bearden or maybe because I lived in the same house during my school years, I always rode the same bus and always had the same bus driver, Burl Jones, bus number 143.

As a kid, Burl seemed like a gruff old man.  He wore either grey or blue pairs of coveralls every day and a cap in warm weather or a toboggan in cold weather.  He never smiled that I can remember, but I do remember the glare he had in that big rearview mirror when kids got rowdy on the bus.  I kind of feared him, so my friends and I usually just sat quietly hoping not to get the glare.  His bus was kind of like I perceived him, old and gruff.  I don’t guess it had ever been washed or, if it had, it was so old it didn’t change in appearance.  After I graduated from high school, I didn’t see Burl again until I started here at the store.  It turns out Burl and his family lived right here in Rocky Hill, just around the corner from the store and came here to buy their groceries.  He still wore either a grey or blue pair of coveralls after all those years, but as I got to know him, I discovered he was a very kind and gentle man who had quite the sense of humor and he still drove bus 143.  I always enjoyed the stories we shared about our bus riding days and couldn’t believe how many that we both remembered.

Several years later, when Erica and I were planning our wedding, I decided I wanted to invite Burl and his wife to our wedding, and I also wanted him to chauffeur us and the wedding party between events in bus 143.  It took a little work to convince Erica that our wedding limousine was going to be my childhood school bus, but I think she was so busy trying to plan everything else, she gave in pretty quickly.  Well when we walked out of the church after the ceremony, there sat Burl and bus 143, just like I remembered it growing up, but on this day the bus seemed a little shinier.  Burl and his wife were dressed to the nines in their Sunday best.  Several of the guys in my wedding had grown up riding the bus with me and, when we started filing onto the bus, we all greeted Burl just like we did every morning all those years ago.

It meant a lot to me that Burl was a part of my wedding day, and I think it meant a lot to him, because his wife would always ask me for more copies of the pictures we took on that day so she could send them to their friends and family.

The Rocky Hill community is full of great people like Burl and Martha Jones, and I am glad I get to know so many of you by working here at the store.  It is great to be part of this community!

Have a great weekend!

Thanks for letting us be a part of your community.

Tom Butler

Making Progress

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is doing well!  Things must be getting a little bit better around here because I slept until six this morning.  The last couple of weeks, it has been a lot earlier than that.  Apparently, my brain is finally starting to slow down, which means the store must be getting back into its comfort zone.  Our staff and our customers alike seem to be finding their pace in what continues to be a long marathon to the finish line instead of a sprint.

Our inventories at the store are starting to get built back up.  Dry grocery goods are still lagging behind but meat, produce, and deli/bakery inventories have increased enough to allow us to take limits off of them.  I even let our twice baked potato man get back to making twice baked potatoes again, instead of having to pitch in on everything else.  I anticipate continued improvement on all of this as we move forward.

Many manufacturers have dropped some of the varieties they are producing, so they can focus on their most important items.  For example, Oscar Mayer has stopped producing a lot of their meat items so they can get full production of the most important ones.  Kimberly-Clark and Proctor & Gamble are taking a similar approach.  That’s what we are all having to do.  Decide what has the highest sense of urgency and focus our resources on it.

I wrote a story about the bowling alley the other day. Wouldn’t you know, I got an email from someone who had two family members that actually worked there.  One of them had even been responsible for cooking burgers as part of his job.  I think they enjoyed reminiscing with me about it.

Another thing I wrote about was social distancing.  One of my suggestions was to skateboard.  I did add that I had only broken one arm doing this.  Well, as usual my good intentions backfired on me.  One of our employees was skateboarding yesterday and yes, he fell and broke his arm.  So now we are down a man, and I have only myself to blame.  I wish him a speedy recovery!

The flip side of that is I am trying to write more “Grocery Life”, because my mother is bored at home, and she asked me to keep writing to give her something to read.  It helps her to occupy time and keep up with her family and the outside world, so I am doing my best to honor her wishes.  Well that was the other day, so I came to work the next day, got a lot of my work done, then sat down to write a blog.  I even mentioned her in it.  I then finished up my day here and when I got home, I went fishing.

The last time I had gone, I had miserable luck, so I wasn’t too optimistic about my prospects.  I decided to go anyways and had one the best days of fishing I have had in a long time.

Well I am not much of a theologian, but here is how my simple mind works.  When you try to do something positive for someone else (especially your mother), the Good Lord will bless you with a boatload of fish.  I am not sure the King James Version of the Bible says it quite this way, but if you go back to the Hebrew and Greek, I am pretty sure it is in there.  You might give it a try.  You may get blessed with a “boatload of fish” also.  I’ve seen it happen time and time again.  Honestly, I feel pretty blessed, even when I am not deserving or don’t catch fish.  I think that’s probably in the Good Book also.

Getting back to the store, we will continue to be closed on Wednesdays and Sundays. Our hours on the other days are from 9 am until 7 pm.  I know this is hard to get used to, so thank you for your cooperation!  We will also continue to have special hours for the elderly and high-risk folks. These are every Tuesday and Saturday morning, from 8am until 9 am.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that things will continue to get better in the store and, more importantly, in the world.

Well, I have gotten my work done and most importantly, I have written another blog for my mother.  I think I may go try my luck at fishing.

I hope everyone has a great weekend, and thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

Bowling & Burgers

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I hope everyone is doing well.  We had our daily “Dixie Stampede” this morning at opening time.  The only things missing were cowboys and cowgirls on horses.  Our show is not as good as Dolly’s, but then again, I don’t share the same attributes that she does.  Usually it calms down in here after the first hour, so my suggestion would be to shop mid-morning to mid-afternoon.

I am not trying to flood you guys with emails, but my mother asked me to keep them coming.  She is staying in due to her age, so she enjoys having something new to read.  I think I could find something better to read than my musings, like a phone book or something, but she’s my mother, so I will do my best to honor her request.

My family has been staying at home for the most part. The kids’ online schoolwork started yesterday, so that has locked them down.

Several days ago, I wrote about things you can do during “social distancing”.  One of the things I mentioned was writing notes to people, which seems to be a lost art.  Well, I and the store have received several handwritten notes in the last couple of days.  I want you to know they mean a lot to us! I have also received several emails that I really appreciate!  I also mentioned learning a song on an instrument or experimenting with cooking a new recipe.

This week my daughter decided she wanted to learn to play the guitar.  She picked out a song that she wants to learn and play for a friend.  I thought this isn’t going to last long.  She will get frustrated and give up.  Later that evening, I heard music coming out of her bedroom and asked my wife if that was YouTube and she said no, it was Lauren.  She obviously picked it up quickly.  I am still waiting for that to happen to me.

My wife also tried something new.  She made lasagna.  I asked her if she had ever made lasagna before, and she told me this would be the first time.  It turned out great, and it was even gluten free!  My son is perfectly content skateboarding, so he really hasn’t had to find new things to do to occupy his time.  Last night I grilled legs and thighs…Well crap!  I just remembered while writing this, I took home okra to fry to go with the chicken. Oh, well!  Fried okra goes with anything, so I will do it next meal.

Tonight, we are probably going to do carry out from J.C. Holdway, which is a restaurant downtown. Joseph Lenn is the chef/ owner of the restaurant, and an alumnus of Butler & Bailey.  We have remained friends since he left the store and try to support his business as much as we can.  While he is known for fancy gourmet dishes, one of my favorite things he does is a cheeseburger.  I don’t know what he does to make it so good, but it is good!  Almost as good as the burgers from the bowling alley.  I think one reason I like it so much is it reminds me of the bowling alley burgers.

When I was growing up, one of the things we did for entertainment was going to the Western Plaza Bowling Lanes.  They were right next door to the Ice Chalet on Kingston Pike.  My friends and I would go to bowl and always calculate how many games we could bowl and still have money left over to buy burgers in the little restaurant they had.  I think the burgers were probably less than fifty cents apiece, but that was a lot of money to try to come up with when you were a kid back then.  One trick we learned in our desire to raise more money for burgers while we bowled was to run around to all the empty lanes looking for change on the floor.  You would be amazed how much change people lost or left behind after leaving their lanes.  Thinking back on it, they probably knew they dropped change but were smart enough to not pick it up off the nasty floor under all the chairs.  As a kid you don’t worry about things like that.  You just love the thrill of finding money…and getting more burgers!

I am sure the lady cooking the burgers always dreaded seeing us coming.  We would just dump all of that dirty change on the counter and ask her to cook however many burgers we could get for the pile of change.  Plus, I don’t think tipping was part of our vocabulary back then.  We would do this repeatedly throughout the day, until all of our resources ran out except for the dime it took you to call your parents to come pick you up.  I am not sure Joseph would want his burgers compared to bowling alley burgers since he is a famous, award winning chef, but in my mind, it’s a compliment.

I tell you all of that to tell you this.  We are all adapting to the way we do business in these times.  Obviously, I am one of the few lucky ones that have a business in high demand.  Most are not as fortunate.  So, I hope you will start or continue to support all of our local businesses.  A lot of them just survive week to week in good times, so it becomes really difficult for them now.  So, get some carry out food from your favorite restaurant and continue buying products from any other businesses that have remained open.  It will make a huge difference moving forward!

Once again, thank you for all of the supportive letters, emails, and compliments you have given to all of us here at the store!  We all have a part to play to get through this, and the personal touch we can offer each other, even if it is six feet away, is the most important.

Thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler


Good evening from Butler & Bailey Market.

It is Wednesday evening, and “all is quiet on the western front”.  This week seems to be going a little better than last week.  I guess when I say better, it is more like it has been more orderly.  When you are obsessive compulsive like I am, you like order.  I am pretty good at taking chaos, processing it, formulating a plan to deal with it, which usually produces order, but I can spin out pretty quickly when my plan gets screwed up due to yet more chaos.  I have spun out so many times over the last couple of weeks my brain is tired and dizzy.

I do think everyone is starting to acclimate to the new normal.  Customers have gotten used to not finding everything they want.  They are also adjusting well to our new store hours.  We started our at-risk hours last Saturday, and I kind of got aggravated about how that went, but we did it again yesterday and it went a lot better.  We will continue to do this every Tuesday and Saturday, from 8am to 9am, until further notice.  I also noticed yesterday that the number of shoppers during the day was more back to normal instead of being overrun for hours on end.
Fortunately, we were closed at the store today, which should have meant a day off for all of us.  That didn’t happen.  Our Monday morning truck finally showed up about 8 o’clock last night, so many of us came to work today to stock the shelves with this load of merchandise.
I actually kind of enjoyed today.  One, you can get a lot done quickly (and orderly) when you are not open for business.  Secondly, it reminded me of when we first started out at the store.  We probably had a total staff of ten to twelve people, so all of us had to pitch in on every task at the store.  We were not making any money, but we were a very close-knit group.  Now our business is more successful, and we have between fifty and sixty people on staff, but I don’t get to work as closely with all of them as I once did.  I miss that aspect.

As I mentioned earlier, we did receive a truck, so tomorrow we will start out with fuller shelves.  We actually even got SOME paper products in.  We will continue to keep limits on certain items in the store like paper products, so please be aware of this.  We are in good shape in the meat department, as well as the deli and bakery.  The produce department remains spotty, but we do have a good supply of the basics.

Our next truck is due tomorrow morning, so I am going to predict that it will show up around Saturday night, which means we will probably be in the store our next day off (Sunday) to put it on the shelves.  I think I may try to trick the grocery gods and take tomorrow or Friday off?

Thanks for your patience, kindness, and understanding throughout this ordeal.  I and we really appreciate it!

I will do my best to keep you updated, and thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler

Hurry Up and Wait!

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market.

I guess our new motto around here is going to be “hurry up and wait”.  Last week’s motto was “we are going to do the best we can”.  That has actually been our motto for the last thirty years, but frustrations are high around here, so I have been vocalizing it a lot more the last couple of weeks.  Probably more for my benefit than anyone else’s.

My old partner here, George Bailey, had a saying for just about any occasion.  Most of them probably originated in the farming community of Mascot.  They usually included a farm animal, barbed wire, fence posts, tractors, and hay so they never made much sense to us here in Rocky Hill, but at least it gave you something to think about the rest of the day.  I have tried to carry on the tradition since he has been gone, but mine are more mainstream, so not quite as thought provoking or impactful.  Most of the time they just backfire on me.  Several times over the last couple of weeks, when I get frustrated at someone or something, a staff member will tell me, Tom, we are just going to do the best we can.  I can always count on them to hold me accountable.

I hope everyone’s social distancing is going okay.  I followed my own advice and went fishing, mowed the yard, and cooked dinner yesterday on my day off.  The fish seemed to have gotten the message about distancing because they were not biting for me.  It could be I spent so much time in between casts on the phone yesterday talking to suppliers, trying to procure product and schedule deliveries for today that my focus wasn’t up to par.

Besides all of our deliveries being delayed by hours, if not days, I had a great start to my day today thanks to some of you.  When I went to unlock the door to open the store, a crowd of your smiling faces was waiting outside.  In unison, you all said, “Good Morning, Tom”.  Where else can you receive such a warm reception in these trying times?  Rocky Hill is a special place!

On to store business.  We will continue to keep our abbreviated hours this week.  They are 9 am until 7 pm every day, except the two days we are closed, which are Wednesdays and Sundays.  Tuesday and Saturday mornings from 8am until 9am are reserved for the elderly and high risk to shop.  Please be respectful of our desire to provide an environment for these folks needing to stay away from larger crowds.

One of our busiest times during the day has become first thing in the morning, so it may benefit you to wait an hour or two before you shop.  I know you feel like our inventories are probably better first thing in the morning, but actually things are running so far behind most of our trucks are coming later in the day, so you may have better luck finding what you need in the afternoon hours.

Another thing I want to address is the well-being of our staff.  While we are blessed to have strong business in these trying economic times, the other side of that is we are all being exposed to thousands of people on a weekly basis, which puts our risk level higher than most; the medical profession being the highest.  In light of this, I have told my staff that if they want to wear masks, gloves, or any other protective clothing, I am glad for them to do that.  Many of you are doing the same thing when you are shopping here, but I didn’t want to raise any alarms if any of our staff chose to do this.  The safety of everyone is our number one priority, so thank you for your understanding on this.

In my last writing, I told you supply lines seemed to be adjusting to this new normal, and I continue to believe this.  While trucks are running behind, they are still running, and we are still receiving an ample amount of product.  Will we be out of things on certain days? Sure, but we will probably receive it the next day, so I don’t think it is necessary to stock up for more than a few days at a time.  I will let you know if anything changes on this.

Another thing I want you to realize is as supply lines tighten up, prices also go up.  It’s the classic supply and demand thing.  A lot of us might have slept through our economics class when this was taught, but it is a real thing.  A lot of produce has already gone up, and the eggs we received today were considerably more expensive.  I assume several other food categories will do the same thing.

I would also recommend carrying some cash.  Most of us hardly carry cash now, just credit cards.  I guess everyone in the world is on the internet, with all that’s going on.  I don’t know the capacity of the internet, but it is obviously getting pushed to the limits, which has caused our credit card machines to shut down temporarily on a number of occasions.  If you have some cash for backup, we can keep the lines moving here at the store, limiting wait times.

In closing, thanks again for all of the support you have given us through these trying times and yes, we are going to continue to “just do the best we can”!

Thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

Tom Butler