'Military Saves Week:' Every week at Hurlburt Commissary

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joe McFadden
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
There were many places that retired Master Sgt. Henry Gillespie and his wife Mary could have shopped for produce.

While living in the United States -- a country filled with a variety of options and competing discounts -- they instead chose to stop at the Hurlburt Field Commissary.

"I like the selection," Mrs. Gillespie said as she travelled through the aisles. "They have everything we want, and for a good price, too."

While the Department of Defense declared Feb. 21-28 "Military Saves Week" to reinforce its message to the military community about saving money and better financial habits, Airmen can save money every week while shopping at the Commissary.

A popular fixture at most military installations, the Commissary sells brand-name groceries and household products at cost to servicemembers, and offers savings of more than 30 percent when compared to commercial grocery prices. While commercial stores operate on a for-profit basis, the Commissary works with different brokers to get the lowest price for military families.

"Our mission is to deliver exceptional savings, satisfy demand for quality grocery and household products, as well as encourage an exciting shopping experience," said Margaret Stanley, store director.

Since Ms. Stanley began working there in 1992, she's seen countless Airmen and their families use the commissary as their main stop of choice.

"We're the cornerstone of the benefits package for military families," she said. "We are solely here in support of the military around the world or wherever they may go."

It's the savings that keep customers like the Gillespies coming back each week.

According to the Defense Commissary Agency's web site, shopping regularly at the commissary year round can amount to savings of nearly $3,300 for a family of four, $2,000 for a couple and $1,100 for a single servicemember.

"I challenge some of the customers to bring their bill here and go around and shop. They can see for themselves that they are saving money here," said Sheila Cromartie, a management specialist at the Commissary. "If they see a product offered elsewhere, we can try to get it here and at a better price. Unless you come here every day, you may never know what kind of savings you will get."

But savings alone were not the only reason people come back, Mrs. Cromartie said.

"While a lot of people come here to save money, they also come here because we're considered a family," she said. "When I call them by name, they know this is their store and that we're here to service them. With that in their minds, they feel at home, and we're here to help with anything."

The connection that the Commissary has with shoppers is also reflected back to the base at large.

The Commissary offers a community scholarship fund for students as well as support for the Fisher House, a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian support for members of the Armed Forces and their families.

The Hurlburt Field Commissary has also shared the base's mission during humanitarian efforts in times of a natural disaster.

"We sent pallets of bottled water -- as many as I could send-- to Haiti," Ms. Stanley said. "And during Hurricane Ivan, we were still running to take care of our military family. In fact, we were open five days when other stores in the area had no refrigeration."

And with the DoD's campaign of renewing the focus on the benefits of being financial fit, the Commissary is one of the many places for Airmen to begin that commitment.

"I shop here because I know they always have a good sale here," said Cora McDaris, secretary at the Commissary and a military wife. "I still come here even on my days off -- it really is worth the trip."

The Commissary will feature a representative from the Airman & Family Readiness Center to speak with Airmen about financial awareness Feb. 25.

For more information about the Commissary, visit http://www.commissaries.com.