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NOTE: To see photos of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard Scott Center Annex Commissary grand opening in Portsmouth, Va., go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/commissary/sets/72157633449269107/with/8726943082/.
PORTSMOUTH, Va – Customers wrapped around the block – some standing in line for nearly two hours – waiting to be among the first to shop during the May 10 grand opening of the new Norfolk Naval Shipyard Scott Center Annex Commissary.
The installation boasts a history of more than 245 years as the Navy’s oldest shipyard, said Capt. Mark Bridenstine, commander, Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Historic is a word that was also appropriate to describe the much smaller, 1970s-era store that the nearly 27,000 shoppers frequented before their new $13.5 million commissary.
“I had the opportunity to tour the new commissary earlier in the week, and you’ll be happy to know that there are no arrows on the ground,” said the commander to the laughter and applause of patrons, referring to the floor décor of the old store that directed patrons from narrow aisle to narrow aisle. “I couldn’t be prouder or happier to welcome you to the grand opening of this new facility.”
The Defense Commissary Agency’s newest store is nearly twice the sales area size of the former Portsmouth commissary. The modern, spacious store, complete with many energy-saving features, was funded by commissary shoppers, an investment they make at the checkout when they pay the 5 percent surcharge. The surcharge covers the construction and renovation costs of commissary facilities.
“Whether you’re single, married with a family or a retiree, you’ll find this an exciting store to shop,” said DeCA Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu. “Every inch of the sales floor was designed to make shopping easy and fun. I know you’ll appreciate the full-service deli and bakery, sushi to go, rotisserie chicken and much-larger fresh produce and meat departments.”
A day earlier, Store Director Doug Buntley had been interviewed by local media about the features of his new store. A central theme to his responses was a sentiment that the new store would give his patrons a shopping experience that they deserve. “They’ve patiently waited a long time for this day,” he said.
For Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dietrich Sullivan, Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s “Sailor of the Year,” the 18-year veteran, assigned to the NNSY Calibration Lab, said she is a regular shopper who takes advantage of the savings that means a lot as a mother of two children. The size of the new store made an immediate impact on her.
“The aisles are much wider and the location is great – it’s easier to get to it with it being here,” Sullivan said. “And, in all my time in the Navy, I didn’t understand the surcharge until now. Well done!” Retired Navy Petty Officer Raymond Dean and his wife, Shelley, were part of the throng of patrons waiting for the store to open. In fact, they were the first two in that long line. The Deans live about a mile from the shipyard, and they shop the commissary two-three times a week.
“It’s such a pleasure to see a new store like this for our military and their families, and it will be a blessing for many years to come,” Raymond Dean said. “This new commissary is like going into a five-star store in town.
Throughout the grand opening and for days beyond, DeCA industry partners and vendors will be giving away commissary gift cards and other prizes. A new car and two motorcycles are among the top prizes.
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