TMC’s campus store
more than a market
By Scott Sienkiewicz
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) -- Framed with bookshelves and a desk full of product designs, Eddie O’Brien jokingly reminisced about becoming Truett-McConnell’s campus storeEddie O’Brien (left) with student workers Erin Camp (center) and Maggie Myra (right). Photo by Carrie Ann Sienkiewicz manager. “Dr. Moosbrugger fired me. If you ask him he’ll say I left him. But that’s not the story. He fired me,” O’Brien said sarcastically. O’Brien came to Truett-McConnell as an administrative assistant to Daniel Moosbrugger, who then was vice president for student services.
Three days after O’Brien’s arrival, the campus store manager position became available; and because of his skills and experience, O’Brien decided to make the move and brought a fresh perspective to his new job.
“I felt led to use the store first as a ministry to the students,” said O’Brien, who believes the store should not operate to make money from the students but serve them.
With much of his professional life spent in management -- including his previous position as manager of Innsbruck Golf Course in Helen, Ga. -- O’Brien is no stranger to the world of profit based business models.
Eddie and Jennifer O'Brien worked countless hours painting and remodeling the campus store. Photo by Carrie Ann Sienkiewicz Upon becoming store manager, O’Brien thought the prices were too high. This ran counter to his conviction that the store would first be a ministry and second be a marketing outlet for the college, regardless of profit.
O’Brien sees his ministry at Truett-McConnell from an educational and spiritual perspective. “I’ve always had a calling to be a pastor, but preaching has just never been the thing that has moved me,” said O’Brien, who desires that customers will feel comfortable talking about their relationship with Christ. “It has actually worked better than I thought it would; now we have a line of people waiting just to talk.”
O’Brien is impressed with his team, not only in their work ethic, but also with their spiritual lives. “To be honest, before I started at Truett I wasn’t real impressed with young people today, but with these students, I am amazed at how godly they are. They have blown me away,” O’Brien said. “I’ve got students who are fasting about decisions, they are doing missions, and you see these kids praying with people. I think their walk with the Lord is vital to their positions. They really care about the school.”
O’Brien relies on his student workers when selecting new products. “We care about them and we want to get products that they will like,” he said. “Students have to know that we are doing it for them; otherwise there is no sense in doing something like this.”
Though the store is now profitable, O’Brien was quick to add that it was never about making a profit: “If we are getting T-shirts on people and getting the college’s name out to families and into the community, we are helping to grow the school.”
Scott Sienkiewicz is a staff writer at Truett-McConnell College.