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Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Butcher, S-CHIP & Our Future

I pulled up to the butchers (Joe & Emil) today and noticed the driveway and landscaping had been completely re-done. It was refreshing and beautiful so I assumed they must have taken on a female partner, or something otherwise evolutionary must have happened. Since they lament the difficulties of finding good help and the future of their family business (they have no children), I don’t expect major face-lifts or cosmetic upgrades at this special little country butcher shop. Yet, when I walked in I couldn’t help but notice how much fun they are now having with a new vacuum sealing machine they recently purchased. They are invigorated with ideas and opportunities to package and brand their meat products; it is quite the sight to see. So, I asked about the face-lift and it seemed only natural to them to invest in their business. While they have limited their shop hours to four days a week, they continue to honor their customers and products with every fiber of their being.

I realized today that I go to the butcher for many of the same reasons my customers go to my stores: they are my ‘Tobacconists’. When I was in college I used to ride the bus to Georgetown Tobacco every Saturday. It was the highlight of my week back then, but now that I am a Tobacconist, I go to the butcher. It seems there must be a deep need in me to connect with people who honor traditions, products, and their customers. Hand crafted products and artisans share special values and community; and this is one of life’s greatest joys, in my opinion.

So, I learned a few lessons today, but the most pertinent comes on the heels of the recent S-CHIP vote. While the battle has really just begun, it is never too late to re-invest. This is the just the beginning of our fight for survival as Tobacconists; but that is OK. The first Sommelier organization did not come to America until the 1950s, so Tobacconists are not that far behind. Over the next few weeks Tobacconist University will have some dramatic and historic announcements, so NOW is time to start crafting our future.

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