There are nearly seven hundred stores across the country, but there’s probably no such thing as a typical Barnes & Noble College campus store. They come in different configurations and sizes and cater to the individualized needs of each college or university they serve. Yet, the common thread that runs through all of them is the exceptional dedication of the store managers who will go above and beyond their job descriptions and believe there are no limits to what they will do for their customers. On the campus of the Florida Institute of Technology, also known as Florida Tech, Ellie Turner is that extraordinary manager.
Located in the heart of the Melbourne campus student center, the Florida Institute of Technology bookstore is a valuable resource for one of the fastest growing four-year universities in Florida, serving a student population of 4,000. “It’s the kind of campus where it’s easy to be connected,” Turner says. “And that’s a big help, particularly for the busier times like during rush events — we all just work together.” She talks about her role at Florida Tech with an enthusiasm that is evident not just in the way she tends to the day-to-day operations of the busy store, but in a willingness to do what it takes for her campus community.
Turner began her career at the store she now manages in 1988, when she took on a temporary job as a cashier, but her instinct to help out led her to stay. “She’s done a superwoman job this year,” notes Greg Graham, Assistant Vice President, Business & Retail Operations for Florida Institute of Technology. “All of us know her well and she’s always so responsive to the needs of faculty, staff and students,” he adds.
Graham points out that what’s even more remarkable about Turner’s achievements at the store is that she’s been without the help of an assistant manager for the past five months. Rather than reduce service, Turner chose the opposite. In addition to successfully guiding the store through the hectic spring rush, she also juggled the management of a secondary location the university had installed at the Melbourne Square Mall, promoting Florida Tech merchandise over the holidays.
“Being short staffed has actually enabled me to learn new things,” Turner points out. And that means learning new ways to support her customers. A tireless worker, you’ll find her participating in key campus events such as Family Day or Alumni Affairs Day – or opening the store on weekends to support Discovery Days or student check-in and orientation programs. She’s also close to the needs of the campus sports teams. “We have a strong and growing athletic program,” points out Graham, “and she’s been incredibly supportive by expanding and promoting our emblematic merchandise as our athletics programs continues to grow.” It’s a role that she’s particularly fond of as the Florida Tech Panthers celebrate their first official football game this fall.
If Turner seems to attract praise from her colleagues she’s also quick to give it, particularly for her full-time graduate student employee, Veronica Howell, who has worked alongside Turner for the past three years. But it’s Turner’s close ties to the campus and her desire to go above and beyond that have helped the bookstore develop such a strong presence on campus. Turner puts it much more simply. “I love working with this faculty and with these students,” she says, “I really just love being here.”