With a festive atmosphere that rivaled Ringling Brothers or Disney World, Robins Air Force Base opened its new, $16 million commissary this morning.
After a brief ribbon cutting ceremony, scores of early-bird shoppers jammed the expansive aisles and display areas of the new 70,000-square-foot facility, taking advantage of food samples, cooking demonstrations, special pricing and registering for shopping sprees and give-aways.
Maj. Gen. Polly Peyer, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center commander, made brief remarks before the doors were opened.
“For 30 years, our commissary has been in a 50-year-old building next door,” she told the 200 or more in attendance. “But this new store will have 15,000 more feet of display space. I’m very excited about the opening.”
The new base grocery was financed from the five percent surcharge added to every commissary bill.
“We open five or six new commissaries each year and they are all financed from the surcharge,” said Philip Sakowitz Jr., director and chief executive officer of the Defense Commissary Agency headquartered at Fort Lee, Va. “We collect about $100 million each year.”
The executive said commissary traffic had dramatically increased in recent years.
“We have about 2.5 million more customers,” he reported. “People come back after they come once.”
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