By Eric Pilgrim | Fort Knox NewsApril 3, 2019
Since 2013, college students attending U.S. Army Cadet Command's Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox have spent time in the Disney Troop Store shopping for needed items.
This year's classes of cadets will walk into a newly renovated version of the store due in part to $30,000 in retained revenue earmarked for the project.
"This building had not been touched in a very long time," said Ellen Henderson, Fort Knox AAFES general manager. "It was well overdue."
Henderson explained that normally they renovate facilities every seven to 10 years. The troop store hadn't been upgraded for about 15 years.
A team of contractors from Army & Air Force Exchange Service started the renovations in 2018 but were unable to finish in time for the start of summer training, according to Henderson, so they held off on them until after summer training concluded.
The new store will include a small Snack Avenue section, which will include fresh brewed coffee, roller grill items and frozen drinks as well as an ice cream bunker and one in-line checkout counter that Henderson said should make getting in and out of the store quicker. Other upgrades include LED lighting, new countertops, ceiling tiles, fresh paint and modern fixtures.
One area that has not been upgraded are the bathrooms -- an area that falls outside the purview of AAFES' responsibility. Henderson said a request has been submitted to Cadet Command for it.
The renovations to the troop store carry with them an added responsibility that Henderson takes seriously.
"This is [the cadets'] first exposure to AAFES, a lot of them. If this is their first time here, this is their first experience with the Exchange," said Henderson. "We want to make sure they see what the standard of our facilities is."
The troop store is slated to open May 15 and operate through Aug. 17, as requested by Cadet Command officials. While anybody who can shop at other facilities can also shop at the troop store, item selection is limited to those approved by the cadre. Restricted items include tobacco and alcohol products, and energy drinks.
Henderson said she hopes the cadets enjoy the renovated store and gives them a good first impression.
"We want to make sure that when they come in, they see a facility that's set up correctly, runs efficiently and doesn't have dilapidated fixtures," said Henderson. "These are our future leaders of the Army, so we want to make sure they see what the Exchange can really provide them."