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Tony '90 and Tracy '91 Blanchard

When Tony Blanchard '90 wooed his then-girlfriend Tracy Grimes (now Blanchard) '91 with his crab dip, originally developed by Tony's mother, both Tony and Tracy were pursuing a political science degree at the College of Charleston. Over the years, they shared the dip at parties and occasions and eventually took the advice of their friends and family: to sell the dip as a business. Now, Tony and Tracy own Big T Coastal Provisions and sell their dips online as well as at grocery stores such as Harris Teeter, Publix and Walmart.

Learn about the political science alumni/entrepreneur couple and their local business.

HSS: What is your typical day at work? What do you like most about your job?

Tracy: Tony is the general manager of Palmetto Boat Sales and I handle the day to day operations of the business. Tony is very involved in sourcing our seafood and I rely on him to help me with the numbers - my weak point and his strong point!  My day can be just about anything as I handle all aspects of the business.  Sales, marketing, shipping, orders: you name it, I do it!  The best thing about my job is telling our story to our retailers, potential retailers, and customers.  Our seafood dips are unique in that they are made from 100% wild caught seafood.  No other seafood dip manufacturer makes a 100% wild caught seafood dip.  We take great pride in producing premium products with high quality ingredients.

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HSS: Why did you both decide to attend the College of Charleston and pursue a political science degree?

Tracy:  I am from Charlotte and looked at several schools in North Carolina and the College of Charleston.  Once my parents and I toured the campus, there was no doubt that Charleston is where I wanted to be!  It turned out to be a pretty great decision!  I thought I wanted to go to law school so I figured political science would lay a good foundation for this career.  I was a runner for a law firm in Charlotte during my sophomore summer.  I figured out I didn’t want to be a lawyer, but I really loved the political science curriculum and my professors so I stuck with it.  I participated in a newly formed humanities program which included an infusion of English and history classes, as well.  I also minored in international studies.

Tony:  I grew up here and didn’t really want to go anywhere else for college.  The College is such a great school, so it was just a natural choice.  One of the first classes I took was a political science class.  It was so engaging that I figured I would take more classes and it just eventually became my major.

HSS: What was your most influential class you took at the College of Charleston?

Tracy: Just about any class with Dr. Tom Palmer was amazing.  He was a veteran of two wars so he brought his stories to life in the classroom.  He was just a fascinating man and I feel really lucky to have had so many classes with him.  Outside of political science, I very much remember an anthropology class with Dr. John Rashford.  He was so passionate about what he was teaching.  I recently contacted him to ask about a book we read in his class.  It left an indelible impression on me and I wanted to read it again.  It was great connecting with him.

Tony:  We both had a lot of the same professors since we were both political science majors.  It’s pretty cool to have the same memories of our professors.   I, too, really loved Dr. Palmer.  And who could ever forget a class with Dr. Kline? He was a hoot and really made the classes fun.  I also really enjoyed my business ethics and philosophy classes. 

HSS: How did your degree help prepare you as entrepreneurs? Any specific College experiences stand out as having prepared you?

Tracy: I think a liberal arts degree from the College really prepared me for all of the things I’ve done in life.  As I always tell my children, a liberal arts degree is so well rounding.  I learned to look at things in a more analytical way and I certainly learned to write and communicate effectively.  I was a Charleston Forty tour guide for the College.  It was not only fun meeting prospective students, but I learned so much about the College and Charleston’s history. I also loved my sorority experience!

Tony: Like Tracy, I think learning to effectively communicate, both verbally and in the written word, has helped me in every job I’ve had.  The College really does a good job creating well rounded students that are prepared to go out into the world and have successful careers and lives.  I had a leadership role in my fraternity which also taught me so much.

HSS: What advice would you offer students interested in pursuing a career similar to yours?

Tony and Tracy: Starting a business, particularly one in the food manufacturing industry, is tough.  It requires determination and steadfastness.  We really believe in our products, so find something you really love and get behind it.  There are hard days for sure, but the rewards of starting a business far outweigh those hard days.

We can both really credit the College for much of our success and happiness as adults.  After all, we met at the College, made some of our best friends there and were prepared for rewarding careers!

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