Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Why didn't anybody tell me?!

Maynard people, why didn't anyone tell me about how awesome Butler Lumber is?!?

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.


  1. Thank you Denise for always opening up our eyes to this town!

  2. You had me at the card catalog drawers. What is so magnetic about them? I'll visit soon. Thanks, Denise!

    1. I guess I'm just drawn to that sort of thing. I guess they are from a bygone era and the remind my of my grandfather. There are also just so many of them. Stop in and let me know what you think. And seriously, ask Mike a question. He's really interesting and knowledgable.

  3. They are really great there! There is also Parker Hardware next to NAPA automotive on Main St. I haven't been there but it is another old Maynard business. Thanks for all your helpful posts!

  4. I always feel at home there because it is so much like the sporting goods store (Macones) that my parents owned in Concord when I was growing up. These are the family owned businesses we can't afford to lose.

  5. You've never needed lumber, bricks, or paving stones? We buy all that stuff and so much more at Butler. Mike is the best. I swear Francis pretends he needs something else, so he can go chat with Mike. They guys in the yard are awesome, too. Mike is super with advice. I've gone in by myself and asked him questions about hardware, etc... So glad you discovered it, but so sad you didn't know! :-)

  6. I love the "octagonal" drawer things -- those are amazing! Yeah, we buy cinder blocks, lumber, etc there whenever we can. The lumber is WAY better quality than the unmentionable, soul-sucking, big box stores. It might cost just a tad more, but if you factor in how long it takes to drive to the big box stores, how many 2x4's you'll have to dig through there to find some straight/not broken ones and how long you have to stand in line to check out with a robot or at best a person who barely acknowledges you (not the awesome Mike!) -- then it doesn't really cost more at all. Butler's is soul enriching, not soul-sucking. Yeah!