Smith ends 38 years at Cash & Carry
Published 12:05 am Saturday, February 15, 2014
In 1976, Bob Smith made the decision to change professions so he could work at home in Andalusia. It turned out to be a good choice and the start of a long career at Andalusia Cash & Carry.
Nearly 38 years later, Smith is saying goodbye to the store and getting ready for a much-anticipated retirement – although he will miss the store and its employees, and vise versa.
“I have been in the hardware business since 1948, which is a long time,” Smith said.
“I was a wholesaler working on the road when Mr. Dean, the owner, called me,” he said of his beginning with the Greenville-based company. “He told me he liked the way I talked, and told me that if I decided to make a career change, to see him.”
Smith said he jumped at the opportunity and found himself in the position of manager at the Andalusia store.
“He sent me here to this store, which was very small then,” Smith said. “It grew slowly over the years, and it took shape; we added on more and more people.”
For the next 15 years Smith managed the store until health problems forced him to take a leave of absence in the early 1990s. But, as soon as he was healthy, Smith said he was back at work. That was 21 years ago.
“It’s been great for me,” he said of his nearly four decades of work at Cash & Carry. “I’ve enjoyed doing this more than anything I’ve ever done. Every day I’ve enjoyed getting up and going to work here. This is like being home.”
Smith, now 80, said as much as he has enjoyed his career, he is looking forward to spending time at home with his wife of 54 years, Nancy, as well as the couple’s three daughters and six grandchildren.
“I’m looking forward to the everyday things,” Smith said of his retirement. “We’re kind of homebodies.”
Smith said the time at home will likely be interrupted by some travel, including visits to a daughter living in Texas, and time spent at their church home, First Baptist Church of Andalusia.
Cash & Carry manager E.J. Dean said losing Smith is very much like losing a family member.
“I hardly remember this store without Mr. Smith,” Dean said. “I mean, he’s been here since I was in high school. I’ve learned a lot from him.”
James King, who has worked with Smith at Cash & Carry for more than two decades, said he is excited for his friend, but will also miss his companion.
“I think he’s one of the finest men you’ll ever get to work with,” King said. “You couldn’t ask for a better person. It’s going to be hard on us, not having him here.”
Smith said the change brings conflicting feelings, but summed up his emotions nicely – “I’m pretty blessed,” he said with a smile.