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George W. Bush does Dallas, decides against becoming hardware-store greeter

February 23, 2009 |  8:06 am

Former President George W. Bush gets employee shirt and name tag at Elliott's Hardware in Dallas

It was probably inevitable that George W. Bush, former president of the United States and recently returned to Dallas, would show up at Elliott's Hardware on Maple Avenue.

After all, Elliott's has been a staple in the community for 60 years, priding itself on individual service from red-vested employees and an "unbeatable selection of hard-to-find items." Plus, Bush and hardware seem like a logical pairing. W. has been known to fix a few things at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

But customers arriving for an organic gardening class -- and even store employees -- were surprised Saturday when the 43rd president of the United States showed up to, um, shop. According to the store, Bush walked in around 11 a.m. wearing a light jacket emblazoned with the presidential seal. Accompanied by a small Secret Service detail, Bush signed autographs and posed for photos.

"Everyone was, of course, abuzz," said Andrea Bond, Elliott's marketing staffer. "Everyone started calling people on their cellphones. It was just amazing."

True, Kyle Walters, president and CEO of Elliott's, had offered Bush a job as the store's greeter. "Like you, many of our greeters are retired from the corporate world, so we're sure you'll have no trouble making new friends," Walters said in an open letter to Bush in a newspaper ad, offering him a cut rate on items purchased for Laura Bush's "honey-do" list.

The Bushes moved into a home in a wealthy part of Dallas on Friday. The former first lady is working on a book, but the former president has yet to interest a publisher in his memoirs. In fact, several have advised him to wait a few years until his reputation is less, well, in need of a good hardware polishing.

Bush turned down the job. He did however spend about an hour browsing the aisles. And he did buy stuff -- batteries, flashlights and WD-40, the store said in a news release.

"We are thrilled Mr. Bush was able to stop and get a few items for his new home," said Bond, pictured above as the store gives the president an Elliott's Hardware shirt and an Elliott's name tag that says "W."

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Associated Press

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