Picatinny's hidden gemstone
July 16, 2008
Picatinny's hidden gemstone
Award-winning commissary installation's well-kept secret
By Eric Kowal
Picatinny Public Affairs Office
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- Voted best small commissary in the Defense Commis-sary Agency's Eastern Region in fiscal year 2005, the commissary here is a little-known treasure. The award recognizes small commissaries that have excelled in commissary operations and service.
The store's director, David Kowal, said there are several criteria commissary staff members need to meet before even being considered for the Richard M. Paget Award.
The commissary here still excels in the area of service as can be seen by their free coffee bar at the entrance to the store, and the rave reviews customers give the store. However, one of the mandatory requirements is that staff must increase their sales from the previous year. But, unfortunately, their sales have not continued to increase, therefore the Picatinny Commissary is not eligible to be nominated for this year's award. There are several reasons Kowal said he feels sales have not increased, including restriction on who is eligible to shop the store as well as the distance from the main gate to the commissary - the closest gate to the store, the Navy Hill Gate, is closed.
Also, possibly of great significance is an aspect Kowal did not have to account for in the past: customers' energy costs. "Although it cannot be proven to be a factor," he said that the price of gas could likely be a significant reason the commissary has seen a decline in sales.
He said that many of the commissary customers do not reside on post, and they might think the savings in food is not worth the extra expense in fuel. But, while Picatinny's commissary may be further than most shoppers' local grocery stores, it can be worth the effort as the store offers lower costs on a wide variety of products to include dairy, produce, frozen products and health and beauty aids.
"Some people do not realize that you can save on average 30 percent more than you could at your normal grocery store," Kowal said adding that the DeCA even accepts manufacturer coupons. Even with a decline in sales, Kowal remains positive about his mission, explaining that new additions to the store have recently been added. New register systems were installed that make the check-out process easier and less time consuming for the customer. Kowal also said the staff installed a bar-code scanner for customers to check prices of products that may not have been tagged. One satisfied customer is Garrison Commander Lt. Col. John P. Stack. He and his family use the commissary for a number of reasons. "I shop at the commissary every week, and I am amazed at the good deals offered. Without a doubt my family saves a lot of money by taking advantage of the commissary," he said.
"Prices on meats and produce are much lower than at the local supermarkets," he explained, adding, "I like the service-oriented attitude of the staff, and I like the fact that you don't need those supermarket cards to get good deals."