TIFTON – Tonia Carpenter sits up in her desk chair with an excited look on her face when she talks about the ideas she has for the Stallion Shop, the official bookstore in the heart of the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College campus.
As the new Manager of the ABAC Stores and Shops, she is constantly thinking of unique ways to attract visitors, both on and off campus.
“There are a lot of things I want to do,” she said. “I’m always looking at new items, new products, different styles. And I like to get feedback from the students. They are our customers, and we want to know what they are looking for.”
Carpenter began her ABAC career in 2007 as a Stallion Shop employee when the store was in Branch Hall. She moved to ABAC’s Georgia Museum of Agriculture in 2011 where she was the manager of the Country Store and the Village Drug Store.
Earlier this year, she added the pro shop at ABAC’s Forest Lakes Golf Course to her duties. In her new position, she heads up all four facilities. That’s no small task, but it seems to come natural for Carpenter.
“I’m a people person,” she said. “I love interacting with the students. When I was at the Museum of Agriculture, it was different because I got to meet people traveling through from all sorts of places, and that was fun too.
“Here, I like to talk with our students. We want to help them find what they’re looking for, but I enjoy talking to them and giving them some encouragement. That’s a part of the job I really enjoy.”
Carpenter’s research is not relegated to just those conversations. She is planning to send a survey to students to get ideas on what they would like to see in the Stallion Shop. She even finds herself scouring social media platforms such as TikTok to see what is trending with students.
Deidra Jackson, ABAC’s Vice President for Finance and Operations, believes Carpenter’s experience will help improve all of ABAC’s stores and shops.
“She will be able to lead the ABAC Stores and Shops in providing the best-in-class customer service and expand our product offerings for students, faculty, alumni, friends of the college, and our customers of the Museum and Forest Lakes,” Jackson said. “I encourage everyone in the community to visit one of the ABAC Stores and Shops and those outside of the area to visit us online or through social media. That support will help us provide the most affordable, hands-on experience for our students.”
Carpenter also believes the Stallion Shop, now located in the Carlton Center, can become more interactive with ideas ranging from more food and beverage offerings, possible new sitting areas, and more.
The ideas seem to come quickly for Carpenter, whose investment in ABAC goes beyond her office hours. Her husband, Tim, is the college’s Director of Facilities and Land Resources. Their son is an ABAC part-time staff member, and their oldest daughter is an ABAC graduate.
“We’re an ABAC family,” Carpenter said. “I’ve really enjoyed all the jobs I’ve had here. We have phenomenal student workers, and I think we have a great team.
“I’m excited about the changes that we’re looking at but everything we do is for our students, and we want the community to feel comfortable coming in as a way of supporting ABAC as well.”