What I’m Thankful For
Thanksgiving is finally here and Turkey Week is almost over. It has been a great week filled with stress and satisfaction. I know you will get an endless supply of “What I’m Grateful For” hits over the next few days, but I’m doing one anyway. It’s meant for your entertainment (I hope), but more importantly it’s my snarky way of thanking those who make it possible for me to do what I do. I’m sure there are some metaphors and life lessons I will learn from reading this back after I publish it. Heck, you may find one or two yourself.
I’m thankful for the numerous cuts and nicks on my hands. Each one reminds me to slow down and pay attention to every cut I make. As I get a little more proficient at the art of butchery, each day there is a tendency to rush the common cuts. These are just as important as the intricate ones, and demand the same attention to detail.
In meat as it is in life… I just wish there was a less painful way to get me to remember this little nugget. I’m thankful for ALL of our customers, but especially those like Linda, whose trust we have slowly gained over time. She demands to know the freshness of every cut she buys, and is absolutely delightful about it. Now, if I could just get her to accept that chicken gets harvested once a week and that the chicken breasts in the case on Saturday are the exact same age as the ones on Wednesday.
It took us months to convince her that our week old chicken was a week fresher than what Whole Foods puts out as ‘just inn today!”. But by taking the time to earn her trust, she has become one of our biggest fans. She has taught us that spending that bit of extra time that we don’t think we have has great value, and will be rewarded down the road. Thanks, Linda! I’m thankful to my staff.
This time last year I didn’t really have one, just myself and Ian. Now that I do, I wonder how I ever did it before. I don’t have a big enough budget to have an assistant, but I don’t know where we would be without Diana manning the office. Ian, affectionately known as “helper broom” (think Disney’s Fantasia) is my rock. He will do anything that is asked and he is getting really good at reading my mind.
Russell is the first person I have hired whose true calling is not just sales, but farmers market sales. The relationships he has formed with our customers are invaluable. Jayne, while she is not involved in the day to day anymore, taught me a great deal about how I am viewed by my customers and employees. Michael is quickly learning how we work and where his strengths are. His attention to our customers’ needs at the counter have really boosted sales and opened up new ideas for how our customers see things.
I am grateful for all of them, individually and collectively. I’m thankful to the employees that I fired. They taught me what to look out for when I hire someone. You would think that even as a novice boss, I would have the foresight to NOT hire someone who calls me “Bro” throughout the interview. . . Or someone that continues to tell me how he will “do you a favor by coming in and working a few days a week”. I am thankful I hired both those guys.
I am also thankful that I fired both those guys before they did any real damage. They taught me to trust my gut and never be desperate enough to hire someone just to fill a void. Wait for the right fit and the rewards are plentiful. I am thankful for ALL of our customers, even the particular ones. These are the customers that have somehow decided that they HAVE to have 1.5 pounds of chicken breasts and will make us continue to mix and match until they get it. 1.46 and 1.53 are not acceptable.
I have been known to go full Soup Nazi and refuse to play this game. I start out by explaining that our chickens don’t grow to all one exact size like Rocky and Rosie magically do. I usually politely ask what they are planning to make which demands such exacting measurement. But in the end, right about the time they ask me to trim it the exact desired weight, I refuse. Not because I can’t do it, but because it goes against the nature of what we do. We are not mega-mart butcher that will package a thousand pounds of meat into exactly 16.000 ounce packages. Animals don’t grow that way, and I’m not going to cut that way.
Our customers understand that we try to follow the map Mother Nature left for us when butchering an animal. I will never be able to tell you exactly how much a cut will weigh until I cut it and weigh it.
I’m thankful to the ones who don’t get that, because they remind me that the customer is ALMOST always right, and to stick to our principals when they are wrong. I’m thankful to my kids, Jackson and Molly. Each day they show me that somehow I must have done something right to raise such smart, creative, thoughtful, caring, loving, tough, independent people. That or I married really, REALLY well and way above my pay grade. They remind me every day about what is really important and for that I’m thankful.
I’m thankful to ALL of our customers, especially the affluent ones. Not because they have a lot of money to spend, but because they are willing to spend it with us. By spending $40/lb on filet, they are helping us keep prices down on the “lesser cuts”. This means that we can provide well raised, healthy protein to a lot of folks who can’t dream of spending that much on meat, but don’t want to eat factory farmed food. The satisfaction of having a customer come to us with a ten dollar budget and leaving with a pound and a half of marrow steak that will feed their family well is unmatched. And for that experience, I’m thankful.
Once more I’m thankful for my mom, Sally. She is the second strongest person I know. What she has taught me about compassion for others is a book all on its own. But the love for and commitment she has made to me and my family, and what she gave up for that, will go down as the single greatest gift I have ever been given. I would not be the person I am today with out her influence. You can thank her or blame her as you see fit.
Again I’m thankful to ALL of our customers, especially the consistent ones. Tracy and Mia, who show up so consistently that, if they miss a week, my banker asks where the Scooby Doo check is. Lauren and Scott, who have been subscribers the longest and are the only ones that could convince me to de-bone a 15lb turkey to make a “Turchetta”. I did, she made it, and it was amazing! I don’t have room to list all of you, but know that your showing up each week, whether you spend $10 or $200, is what allows us the opportunity to grow a sustainable business that over time will change the way many people eat for the better. I believe that and am thankful for your consistency.
Finally, I am thankful for my love, Laura. No matter how many times I refer to it as “my” company, this will always be ours. This will come as a shock to many of you, but I am not always the easiest person to get along with. She IS the single strongest person I know. She has stuck by me through every failure, and there have been some doozies. She is not the woman behind the man, she is the woman who made the man. Laura, I love you so much and am SOOO thankful you stood by me through all I have put you through.
So there it is. . . what I’m thankful for. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great holiday season. Whatever category you fall in, we are truly thankful for ALL of our customers. We learn something from each one of you, and you really have helped shape this company of ours.
Thank you very much!