FORT LEE, Va., 2014-10-27— /EPR Retail News/ — The spotlight was on military service members and their families Oct. 21 at the long-anticipated grand opening of the Pittsburgh Area Commissary and Exchange.
“This is your commissary. This is your benefit,” Defense Commissary Agency Director and CEO Joseph Jeu told the large gathering of more than 500 people during the 10 a.m. ceremony. “We are here to serve you. Have a great day and enjoy your commissary benefit.”
Jeu was one of seven speakers for the event that marked the completion of many years of collaboration between federal, state and local officials to have a commissary built in the area, following the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure decision to close the nearby C.E. Kelly Support Facility. The commissary there was kept open until Oct. 18, once the new commissary was completed.
Like Jeu, the speakers spoke of their support for those in military service and thanked all who worked to make the new commissary possible. They included U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania’s 18th District, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania’s 14th District, State Senator Matt Smith of Pennsylvania’s 37th District, Ronny Rexrode, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Eastern Region vice president, and Army Col. Matthew Lissner of the 99th Regional Support Command.
The new commissary, located along a major thoroughfare near the Pittsburgh airport, is much better-suited to support commissary-eligible patrons in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. The AAFES Exchange section of the new shopping complex opened in August.
The old C.E. Kelly Commissary was built in 1959, with two checkouts. The new store, with five regular checkouts and four self-checkouts, is more than twice the size, boasts more items for customers to buy and includes an international delicatessen and bakery, which the old store didn’t have.
With high ceilings and wide aisles, the new store is designed to provide a pleasant shopping experience in a much more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly facility. “We’re entering a new era for the commissary benefit with our new store. It’s a vast improvement over the old C.E. Kelly Commissary,” said Store Director Wayne Trotter. “I can’t say enough about how much our customers appreciate their commissary. One of them came up to me on the day we closed Kelly and said they were sad to see the old store go away, but we’re all glad to now operate in such a fine facility at this great location.”
Customers echoed Trotter’s assessment.
“Way different,” is how Marta Gines summed up her comparison of the new and old stores. Marta was there with her husband, Army National Guard Spec. Manuel Gines, and their daughter, Kaitlyn. “We waited two hours today for this to open and it was worth the wait. This store has all we need.”
Air Force Maj. Scott Kniola and his wife, Bridget, were at the self-checkout when she said she’s looking forward to shopping. “We got just a few items today – we’re here to check it out mostly – and I’m definitely coming back soon for some serious shopping. The prices are great!”
NOTE: To see photos and video clips of the new Pittsburgh Area Commissary grand opening, please 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. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. 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.
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773