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Bigger and better

Belvoir community welcomes new, spacious commissary

FORT LEE, Va. (Mar. 30, 2017) – For many people standing in line for the March 30 grand opening of the new commissary at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the size of the facility meant as much to them as the amount they save on their groceries.

This was a sentiment echoed by Army Col. Angie Holbrook, the Fort Belvoir garrison commander.

"My favorite feature of the new commissary is the three-cart wide aisles," she said. "You know what that means? Some shoppers take a little more time to make their selection. Some of us who know what we want can get in and out and we won't bother them.

"Seriously, I can go on and on about the many, many great features of our new commissary, but I'm only standing in the way of ringing registers and shoppers stocking their pantries," Holbrook said. "This is an amazing, state-of-the-art facility, and just another reason to choose Belvoir. This is how we make every day better."

The new store is another example of the Defense Commissary Agency's commitment to deliver the best benefit possible to service members and their families, said Joseph H. Jeu, DeCA director and CEO.

"Today, and every day, it's our goal to make your shopping experience something you look forward to," Jeu said. "It's not enough just to have a new facility and low prices. Our goal is to provide you with great customer service.

"[Store Administrator] Meralie Ervin and her team are here to give you the very best service possible in your new commissary."

Throughout the day, DeCA's industry partners augmented the grand opening event with special sales promotions, product samplings and drawings for prizes.

Highlights of the new commissary include the following features:

  • Sales area of 82,600 square feet, significantly larger and more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than the commissary it is replacing, built in 1981, which had a sales area of 57,029 square feet.
  • Front end with 30 checkouts, including eight self-checkouts
  • Extensive fresh produce, meat, frozen, chilled and grocery departments combined with an international delicatessen and bakery, sushi to-go, fresh seafood and rotisserie-cooked chicken
  • More than 21,000 line items
  • Living Well Corner, a section of 1,500 organic, natural and other lifestyle choices such as gluten-free, non-GMO, and no-added hormone products from frozen and chilled to dry and fresh.

For Spec. Akilah Bush of Belvoir's 249th Engineer Battalion, the sheer size of the new store was overwhelming. "This new store is really, really big," said the young soldier who normally visits the commissary once a week. "I have kids and we run out of stuff a lot, or I might need something and I come back.

"It's worth it to me because the prices are cheaper," Bush said. "I love it because I live right here on post, and I'd rather shop here than go off post."

Army Lt. Col. Gregory Orrell, a project officer at the Pentagon, was also impressed by the spacious facility. "It's big, it's wide, a lot easier to shop. Looks like a big selection, especially the [Living Well] special section for organic foods and things like that which we are interested in.

"This is one of the greatest benefits in the military, shopping in the commissary," Orrell said. "Food prices outside tend to be much higher than in the commissary."

For Colleen Betker, the spouse of an Army retiree, a new store with plenty of products is a must. With six children, she shops once a week. "We're excited about it. A nice, new redesigned store with wider aisles, so more people can go through."

Commissary shoppers like Betker, Orrell and Bush are true owners of this facility because the 5 percent surcharge added to their bill at checkout funded the $38 million construction project. The surcharge pays for new commissary construction and the renovation of existing facilities.

The Fort Belvoir Commissary is routinely one of DeCA's leaders in annual sales, Holbrook noted in her opening remarks. "This store does about $97 million in annual sales – we might do that today!"

To see photos related to this news release, visit our Flickr page.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit and make no profit on the sale of merchandise. Authorized patrons save thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to commercial prices when shopping regularly at a commissary. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America's military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773

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