CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- It was an event that many waited a long time to see and on Nov. 20 it happened--Camp Humphreys opened its new main exchange and it did not disappoint the 5,000 customers who streamed through its doors that day.
The new Camp Humphreys shopping center is the third-largest in the world, the largest in the Pacific Region and, at 300,000 square feet, is five times larger than the 14-year old Exchange it replaces.
The new PX shopping center features everything from electronics to clothes, housewares, linens, furniture, designer handbags, perfumes, jewelry, military clothing sales, 13 check out registers and a food court, Starbucks, Baskin-Robbins ice cream, Krispy Kreme donuts and a host of vendors.
It is enhanced by plenty of parking in front of the store and is within walking distance to Army Family Housing and Soldiers' barracks.
At the Nov. 20 grand opening, Army Air Force Exchange Service director and chief executive officer Tom Shull said the new exchange is more than just a store.
"This is your gathering place, your lifeline to America and we're grateful to take part in the joy of the holidays to celebrate with you and yours," he said.
Shull also praised Eighth Army commander Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal for his efforts to open the new exchange.
"Eighth Army command team, wow, you've got a fearless leader for sure and he made it happen. We couldn't be more pleased to be part of that partnership, thank you sir," Shull said.
Vandal followed joking that the hundreds of shoppers who filled the main entrance and food court didn't come to hear him speak.
"Well, good morning shoppers, I'm sure most of you don't want to hear a long-winded general officer so I'll keep this brief," Vandal said.
Vandal said the new exchange could not have opened for the holidays if not for the efforts many.
"The fact that they were able to pull this all together and do it in time for our holiday shopping is absolutely a phenomenal undertaking," Vandal said. "Back in March we never thought this would happen, we were talking about sometime February-March timeframe."
Vandal said the credit goes to the Humphreys garrison commander, the Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense U.S. Relocation Office and the AAFES team who pulled it all together.
"So absolutely, a superb job," he said.
Vandal said the PX Shopping Center and other new facilities to open in the next several months represent the enduring commitment the ROK and U.S. governments have toward families, the alliance and the defense of the Republic of Korea.
"We are proud to have this new main PX. There are other facilities that will open in the next six months and I'm telling you this will be the crown jewel of overseas assignments," Vandal said.
And with that Vandal, Shull, AAFES Area Manager Rick Fair, Exchange General Manager Stanley Young, Humphreys Garrison Commander Col. Scott W. Mueller and a host of others cut the ribbon and the hundreds who waited patiently in the food court and shopping mall streamed into the new store ready to shop.
Business was brisk on opening day Young said; the new exchange did about $600,000 in sales. By comparison, the highest day for the old store was $100,000.
Sales on Black Friday, Nov. 24, went even higher, topping $1.1 million, the third highest total worldwide, Young said. Approximately 5,900 customers shopped that day.