SUPPORTING the community is at the core of Bass Bowerbird, where they not only sell locally made products but also hire people with a disability.

Owned by Ross Denby and wife Tracey, the shop trains those with a disability to learn essential workplace skills, boosting their confidence and future job opportunities.

And Ross couldn’t be prouder of employee Erin Dijkman, who works every Tuesday and Wednesday learning how to serve customers, amongst other duties.

“She has learnt how to use the point of sale, as well as presentation, dusting and vacuuming,” Mr Denby said.

Ross and Tracey were inspired to open the store as their own son had a disability and sadly passed away in 1999.

“We have always had a bit of a heart for people with disability,” he said.

“And when we saw this shop, we thought it’s just been sitting here for years unloved, so we wanted to open it.

“We believe people with disabilities can learn skills; they don’t just have to do leisure activities for the rest of their life.”

The gift shop offers a wide range of sensibly priced items, such as hand-knitted possums and baby clothes, to scented candles and paintings.

“There’s nearly a dozen people who contribute to the shop, and they get 100 per cent of what they sell,” he said.

“All the products you see here are made or sourced from the Bass Coast area.

“We thought we would be an op shop, but it’s turned out to be more of an upmarket gift shop.”

The gift shop is open from 10.30am to 2pm Wednesday to Saturday at 7 Bass School Road, Bass.

For more information, call 0490 339 959 or visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/bassbowerbird.

And why not check out the couple’s café Paul’s Table, named after their son, where they also train participants to make coffee and serve customers, at 1-3 Hade Avenue, Bass.