I have lived in this town nearly twenty years, and whenever people have mentioned Butler Lumber, they have somehow never mentioned how unbelievably awesome it is. Have you been there?
Okay, so one friend did tell me about it (thanks Carol!). That's how I finally managed to get there. I mentioned to her that I wanted to do a post about how, though we lost Aubuchon, we have many other hardware type stores to fill many of those needs. That's when she asked if I had ever been to Butler. I shrugged my shoulders and said that I didn't think I had. She went on to tell me a Butler Lumber story.
A vintage chair of hers had lost one of its feet—a specialty kind of item that you can't get easily. On a whim she went to Butler. Mike (he's another story all together) the man behind the counter, walked right over to what she referred to as "some random drawer among many hundreds of drawers, a bit like card catalogs," and pulled out a package of two, the last two, of exactly what she needed. It still had it's 1980s price tag of something like $1.50. I didn't realize that it might be the kind of thing they'd carry, and the guy who knew exactly where everything was—it all piqued my curiosity.
I had a project in mind, so I decided to visit. As soon as I opened the door and stepped inside, my jaw dropped. I couldn't believe the place— all of the little oak drawers with their metal pulls, the funny vintage signs, nooks of hidden odds and ends—it was great. I walked around in awe. Being in Butler Lumber is like traveling back in time. It reminded me of my grandfather's old woodworking shop, a place where wood went in and came out transformed into something useful.
I asked the man at the desk if he minded if I took any pictures. He said it was fine. Of course it's my hobby to try and get to know everyone connected to Maynard, so I introduced myself and he handed me his business card—Mike Sawvelle. I told Mike about how I heard he could find anything in the place and asked him how he did it. He told me that he'd been working there for thirty years.
I mentioned what I was trying to do with my project. He didn't have what I needed, but came up with an alternate solution that used plexiglass. I wasn't sure if it would be the right solution, but he cut some up, and handed it to me. He wouldn't even let me pay for it. "Give it a try," he said. "If it works come back and buy what you need."
I stopped in again recently to return the plexiglass. It wasn't what I needed, but I was so grateful that he had gone to the trouble to help me. I chatted with him for a little while and I learned that whatever story I had told myself about him was really incomplete. He's not only really nice, he's also really interesting. Go talk to him, you'll see.
When I first walked into Butler Lumber at the end of last year, the first thing out of my mouth was, "Wow, this place is amazing!" Mike's response to me was, "Not all of these places are orange." He is so right. There's a real hardware experience just waiting to happen to you, right here in Maynard. Take the kids. There's really nothing quite like it.
They have a Facebook page, too.