Robins unveils renovated Exchange

wcrenshaw@macon.comNovember 14, 2012 

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE -- Robins Air Force Base will herald the opening of its newly renovated exchange store Thursday, which includes three new restaurants.

Only a few finishing touches are left to be put on the building, where active-duty and retired military members buy goods tax-free in a store similar to a regular discount store. It also has a food court, with the new additions including Popeye’s Fried Chicken, Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway. The restaurants are replacing Cinnabon, Baskin-Robbins and Robin Hood Sandwich Shoppe.

Formerly called the Base Exchange, or more commonly the BX, the store is now simply called the Exchange.

Anthony Ventura, general manager, said the store itself has gone from the old grid design to a “V” design divided into three centers, which are Life, Style and Home. The renovations have taken a little less than six months.

“It’s really to give the best shopping experience to the military community,” Ventura said as he stood in the middle of the store Wednesday with shoppers milling around. “To serve those who served, that’s what it’s all about.”

Gloria McGrath and Betty Lynch, whose husbands are Air Force retirees, enjoyed lunch in one of the new booths in the dining area.

“I think it’s fabulous,” McGrath said of the renovations. “They definitely needed a change.”

They had been coming about once or twice a month but said they may come more often now.

The store has remained in operation throughout the renovations, with one section done at a time. The old white tile floor was removed and the concrete underneath it polished as the new floor, along with carpet in some areas.

Ventura said customers are already giving positive reviews and sales are up, which he expects to continue. That will help a lot of operations on base because part of sales go toward the Morale, Welfare and Recreation fund, which includes such things as the golf course and bowling alley.

Ventura said the renovations were paid for entirely by proceeds from sales in the store. He said he didn’t know the final cost yet, and he did not have an estimate of what that might be.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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