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Six Commissaries Slated to Close

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2001 – The Defense Commissary Agency will close six stateside stores this spring and fall as part of ongoing efforts to infuse better business practices across the organization.

Agency spokesman Tim Ford said Feb. 1 that DeCA recently completed a thorough review of its stores “to make sure the commissary benefit continues to be delivered in the most effective and efficient manner.”

According to Ford, stores marked for closure are Pope Air Force Base, N.C., Kelly AFB, Texas, the Defense Supply Center in Richmond, Va., and Sierra Army Depot, Calif., April 15; Cutler Naval Computer Telecommunications Station, Machias, Maine, Sept. 30; and Brooks AFB, Texas, Oct. 1.

“Closing these commissaries, which altogether cost about $4 million a year to operate, will help DeCA improve the overall benefit,” Ford said. “In many cases we can focus our efforts on stores able to serve more patrons with more groceries on the shelves and top-notch produce, meat, deli and bakery departments.” For example, Fort Bragg, N.C., has two large commissaries that can serve customers who had shopped at nearby Pope, he said.

The closures were approved after consulting the affected military service, the Commissary Operating Board -- whose members represent each of the services -- the DoD staff and Congress, Ford said. The closures will reduce the total number of DeCA stores to 281.

DeCA officials said commissaries listed for closure fall under previous Base Realignment and Closure initiatives, and/or are older, smaller facilities with reduced numbers of active duty customers. Sierra Army Depot and Kelly Air Force Base, for instance, were named in the 1995 BRAC.

Active duty service members and their families are the primary beneficiaries of DeCA’s worldwide grocery operations, officials said. The Brooks AFB, Pope AFB and Richmond stores are closing because of reduced active duty strength, Ford noted, while Cutler now has no active duty assigned to the installation.

“The review considered the number of active duty customers, the nearest commissary, the future installation mission, commissary sales and operating costs, and facility conditions,” Ford said.

He reiterated that most customers affected by the closings, to include military retirees, will be able to shop at other commissaries, many nearby. Lackland Air Force Base’s large commissary can serve former Brooks and Kelly customers, he said. Patrons of the Richmond, Va., store could use the Fort Lee commissary.

“We recognize the importance of the benefit to our patrons and encourage them to shop at their nearest commissaries,” Ford said.

For more information about DeCA, see the organization Web site at http://www.commissaries.com/.

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