By Julia LeDoux, Pentagram Staff Writer May 17, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - The Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Commissary will shutter its doors for 11 Mondays beginning July 8.
"It will impact us, of course, big time for our customers that they won't be able to shop in the commissary on Mondays," said store director Nancy Mitchell. "The rest of our days will be normal [operating hours]. "We're doing everything we can to minimize the impact this has," Mitchell added.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced direct furloughs of up to 11 days for most of the Defense Department's civilian employees May 14.
"I have made this decision very reluctantly, because I know that the furloughs will disrupt lives and impact DoD operations. I recognize the significant hardship this places on you and your families," he said in a statement.
Mitchell said many customers may not even realize that the military's food stores are part of the Defense Department and are overseen by the Defense Commissary Agency or DeCA.
"Everybody is getting these cutbacks right now," she said. "We're all straining." The commissary workers union agreed that all commissaries would close on Mondays, Mitchell explained.
She added that commissaries across the board are extremely shorthanded and hiring freezes have been in effect for some time.
The staffing shortage combined with the Monday furlough closure means challenging times for Mitchell and her 102-member staff. She noted that stocking is done by contractors at nighttime during the week and shouldn't be impacted.
"It's the replenishment," Mitchell underscored. "We don't have the manpower always to replenish during the day. On the weekends it really hurts us."
Mitchell urges customers who shop, especially on the weekends when stock can dwindle, to take advantage of the special order service to ensure that they'll be able to check every item off their grocery list.
"You're guaranteed [the item] is going to be here if you special order," she said. "It must be one of DeCA's products."
The JBM-HH Commissary at Fort Myer, is a 37,126 square feet facility with over 17,000 line items and brings in over $5 million in sales a month. Mitchell said that on May 14, what she called a "quiet Tuesday," more than 2,000 people came through the store's doors.
"My average number of customers on the weekend is over 3,000 a day," she said. "This is a special store. We have high-end clientele that come in here. They are a very demanding clientele. My employees are fantastic. Most of them have been here forever and a day. They know this clientele."
Mitchell also invited the store's customers to its Annual Family Fun and Fitness event May 31 which will raise money for wounded warriors.
In addition to food items that will be for sale, Army Community Service will be on-site providing games for kids, the Army Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) will have goodie bags, the Andrew Rader U.S. Army Health Clinic will provide nutritional and health information and a free Zumba class will be given. The event runs from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.