CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Not every trip to Southside Ace Hardware starts the same way, only the lucky ones.
Several days each week, customers are greeted by Andrew Bowles, the goodwill ambassador for Southside Ace and a key member of the family at this local family business.
"Andrew loves being around people. He loves greeting," Ann Bowles said of her 25-year-old son who has cerebral palsy. "He can't wait to get to work. He said he wanted to help his brother."
And when the Bowles family opened a hardware franchise earlier this year, Andrew was part of the plan from the start.
"I've always wanted to work with family," said David Bowles, who moved to Savannah from Atlanta to help his parents open the store. "And I've always wanted to help my brother in any way that I could."
"They are quite a team," Ann said of her two sons. "Andrew has taught us a lot over the years about learning to accept others for who they are and what they can do."
And what Andrew does is make everyone who walks through the door feel welcome.
He hands them a flier if they need one and directs them to the right aisle to find the items they are shopping for.
And there are perks to the job.
"Sometimes," Andrew said, "people give me candy bars."
"All of our customers with dogs or firefighters, police officers, everybody comes up to Andrew and strikes up a conversation with him. He's good to have up front," added David "And all our regulars also come in, when Andrew's not here, they notice. When I'm not here, nobody really notices."
It's impossible not to notice the family atmosphere at the new Ace, a feeling that starts with the WTOC Hometown Hero at the door inviting people in to join his family.
"He makes a great greeter," said David. "And he helps around the store putting up stock and dusting, things like that."
"Sometimes," added Andrew's mother, "you wonder why somebody has a disability and over the years, you realize why they are here."
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