Earl Holden and Sophie the macaw have a lot in common.
The brightly-colored bird and 46-year-old man each overcame obstacles. Earl rescued the neglected bird. Sophie helped Earl to bounce back from layoffs and unemployment.
"My parents always taught me if you wanted something to go get it," he said.
Earl used hard work and determination to reinvent himself. Teaming with a business partner, SCORE program and Central Bank in Fulton, he took over a pet store with a tarnished image and turned it into a shining jewel.
"The last two months, I've changed a lot of people's minds and ideas about what a pet store can be," he said.
That's why the Clinton Chamber of Commerce saluted him on Friday. In a room filled with community leaders and loving puppies, they lauded his triumph over tough times.
"Knowing that he cares this much and has really gone through all these obstacles, he will be a great business partner here for our community," said Joni Krogman, the Chamber's operations director.
Wings-N-Things Pet Center opened in October at 1615 Lincolnway in Clinton. It features everything from friendly faces to unusual finds. It's a labor of love for the animal lover.
"Our number one goal is the well-being of our pets," he said.
He's emerging from unemployment to craft a career with passion. It's an emotional journey.
"I don't look at it as being boss," he said. "I look at it like I come and play, literally play."
The store is open 10-7 on Monday through Saturday, and from 10-3 on Sunday.