• Every time he shops at the Post Exchange, retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Sam Gonzales, center, is greeted warmly by PX employees. Those employees include, from left, PX general manager Loraine Arbo, sales and marketing manager Kim Sumpter, central checkout leader Kimberly Scott, Human Resources technician Dewayne Lyles, customer service supervisor Leona Johnson, operations manager Montina Hoefle and senior sales associate-jewelry counter Patricia James. Gonzales works in the Apache Project Office.

    CUSTOMERS FIRST

    Every time he shops at the Post Exchange, retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Sam Gonzales, center, is greeted warmly by PX employees. Those employees include, from left, PX general manager Loraine Arbo, sales and marketing manager Kim Sumpter...

  • Retired Maj. Mitch Stevison shops for a special piece of jewelry for his wife with the help of senior sales associate Patricia James. Stevison and his wife are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

    SHOPPING FOR JEWELRY

    Retired Maj. Mitch Stevison shops for a special piece of jewelry for his wife with the help of senior sales associate Patricia James. Stevison and his wife are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Customer service is driving changes at the Post Exchange that will add new products and more convenience to Redstone ArsenalAca,!a,,cs shopping experience.

Those changes are being coordinated by a management team that is frequently studying the buying habits of PX customers and the offerings of local competitors, ensuring that the PX and its associated vendors remain a leading shopping choice for Soldiers, military retirees and veterans, and their families.

Loraine Arbo, the exchangeAca,!a,,cs new general manager, along with Kim Sumpter, sales and merchandise manager; and Montina Hoefle, operations manager, are leading the efforts to modernize the PXAca,!a,,cs retail image and customer offerings.

Aca,!A"I came to a great team,Aca,!A? Arbo said. Aca,!A"We have 257 associates who work for the exchange. And they are all here to serve our customers.Aca,!A?

The PX and its mall facility on Vincent Drive are managed by the Army & Air Force Exchange Service and include the following Arsenal businesses: CharleyAca,!a,,cs Grilled Subs, ChurchAca,!a,,cs Chicken, AnthonyAca,!a,,cs Pizza and Cinnabon, all located in the PX food court.

Besides the exchange, AAFES also staffs and manages the Burger King, American Eatery in Garrison building 4488, and the shoppette/gas station. Commercial vendors in the PX mall include GNC Live Well, Cellular Express, Stripes Alterations, Regions Bank, Petals and Blooms, and Fashion Square along with a barber shop, cleaners, nail salon, beauty salon and jewelry, cap and gift basket shops, and clothing and accessories stores. Vendors also include the Firestone tire store located nearby.

Changes at the PX will have a positive impact on these businesses and their customers, Arbo said.

Aca,!A"The goal is to merge our facilities so that we have one-stop shopping for our customers,Aca,!A? she said. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs all about convenience and service. With our one-stop shopping, Just Compare! low pricing program, price matching program and large number of products, we want to make AAFES the first choice for the Arsenal community.Aca,!A?

The most recent and obvious change has been the opening of the new Burger King, located on the Vincent Drive side of the PX parking lot. The old Burger King facility is under renovation and will reopen as a coffee shop.

Aca,!A"The Burger King had a soft opening on Jan. 19 and the sales were up 10 percent in its first three days of business,Aca,!A? Arbo said. Aca,!A"The grand opening is scheduled for Feb. 5.Aca,!A?

Another recent change is the move of the PX furniture store from its current stand-alone facility on the north side of the PX parking lot to inside the current PX store.

Aca,!A"We are now co-locating the furniture store in our main store,Aca,!A? Arbo said. Aca,!A"We will be moving our products around and using some of our extra space to accommodate the furniture department.Aca,!A?

The furniture department will be located in an area near the menAca,!a,,cs and boysAca,!a,,c departments. It will include ready-to-assemble furniture, mattresses, major appliances and recliners.

Aca,!A"We wonAca,!a,,ct be deleting any of our categories within the store,Aca,!A? Sumpter said. Aca,!A"But management is modifying selections to meet demographics. We are about 3 percent ahead of our sales numbers from last year. We want to continue to grow in that direction.Aca,!A?

The furniture store facility will not remain empty for long. By mid-March, the PX will offer a full range of optometry services, including an eye doctor, and eyewear for its customers in half of the facility while the other half will be used for administrative purposes.

Also moving into the 43,000-square-foot PX facility will be Military Clothing Sales and Service, which will make the move from building 3479 in mid-2010.

Aca,!A"We will be having a reduction in the number of Soldiers we have here because of BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations),Aca,!A? Arbo said. Aca,!A"Once OMEMS (Ordnance Munitions and Electronics Maintenance School) leaves, we will have about 500 permanent Soldiers stationed here. With that reduction, we found that we could better serve that population if we co-located MCSS within our store instead of having it in a separate facility.Aca,!A?

Besides the addition of the furniture department and MCSS, changes within the exchange include the renovation and reorganizing of the storeAca,!a,,cs electronics products. The PX now features an electronics department, known as The Power Zone, where electronics Aca,!" including flat-screen displays, computers and telephones Aca,!" are on display. Those renovations were completed in November.

Aca,!A"It now looks like a Best Buy or any other electronics store in town with flat screen TVs on display and all our electronics in one area,Aca,!A? Sumpter said. Aca,!A"Customers love it.Aca,!A?

Customers are sure to also appreciate the move of the Customer Service department to the front of the store, which will occur in the next couple weeks.

Aca,!A"We are putting Customer Service at the front of the store so that it is easier for customers to do things like layaway, catalog orders and refunds,Aca,!A? Arbo said. Aca,!A"In its place at the back of the store, we will put our Corporate University Training Room, which is very important to our goal to make sure our employees receive the training they need.Aca,!A?

The PXAca,!a,,cs most popular shopping areas are The Power Zone, Health and Beauty Care, and Cosmetics Aca,!" departments that are constantly under scrutiny by management to ensure they are meeting customer needs and wants.

Aca,!A"Health and Beauty Care is a big driver for us,Aca,!A? Sumpter said. Aca,!A"It brings customers into the store. And we hope that once they are here they will branch out into other departments to make purchases.Aca,!A?

Some upcoming changes within the PX facility will not be as evident to customers as introducing new departments or moving departments to other areas of the store, Sumpter said. One of those changes involves the introduction of the Inventory Control Associate, which is a replenishment management system.

Aca,!A"Starting Feb. 19, as customers make purchases, they will be scanned at the register and our system will know what stock needs to be replenished in the store,Aca,!A? Sumpter said. Aca,!A"This will help us to keep stock in the store that customers are buying.Aca,!A?

The system also gives PX employees the ability to order items in stock at other stores and to have them available to customers within a couple days.

AAFES will also be bringing some changes to its vendor mix in the PX/Commissary mall. The most significant addition, Arbo said, will be a GameStop, which is expected to open in mid-summer. Another addition will be a business selling ceiling tiles, flooring and lighting.

And another recent addition is a BlimpieAca,!a,,cs, now located in a trailer outside the Garrison building 4488.

In 2012, AAFES plans to include the BlimpieAca,!a,,cs in a new shoppette and shopping center located at the corner of Martin and Mills roads. The project includes stores, a gas station and restaurants.

Aca,!A"We want to capture business from some of the 12,000 employees who work on that side of the Arsenal,Aca,!A? Arbo said. Aca,!A"We donAca,!a,,ct want them to have to leave post to do their business or to eat lunch.Aca,!A?

Between Arbo, Sumpter and Hoefle, the management team at the PX has a vast amount of experience working with AAFES. Arbo recently transferred from Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City to replace outgoing PX general manager Carl Carpenter, who transferred to Fort Riley, Kan. Arbo has been an AAFES employee for 28 years. Sumpter has been with AAFES for 32 years, 19 of those at Redstone Arsenal. And, Hoefle has been with AAFES for 21 years, 12 of those at Redstone Arsenal.

Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm here by choice,Aca,!A? Sumpter said. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs a fabulous community and itAca,!a,,cs a mission thatAca,!a,,cs important. The military community here is a good community to work with.Aca,!A?

For Arbo, the mission at the local PX is the same mission she has focused on during her 28-year career Aca,!" to provide Soldiers and military retirees and their families with the best shopping experience possible at the lowest prices possible.

Aca,!A"The mission is the same, but the challenges are different,Aca,!A? Arbo said. Aca,!A"Here, managing the growth and demand for services and products is a great challenge to have. This is a leading store for AAFES. It is considered a small family retiree store with lots of potential and growing customer loyalty.Aca,!A?

Although technology and marketing have changed the store, Sumpter said customer service is still the number one priority at the PX.

Aca,!A"Automation has made everything state-of-the-art for us,Aca,!A? she said. Aca,!A"But we are still most concerned with taking care of our customer relationships. ThatAca,!a,,cs still the most important thing for us.Aca,!A?

Added Arbo: Aca,!A"We want to maintain high customer loyalty. The customers are why we are here.Aca,!A?

Page last updated Fri February 5th, 2010 at 12:37