FORT RILEY, Kan. -- After 28 months, $24 million and 74-percent more retail shopping space, the renovation project at the Fort Riley Commissary was completed without closing a single hour for the process.

Fort Riley leadership, Soldiers and Families joined Peter Howell, commissary manager; and Terry Batenhorst, west area director, Defense Commissary Agency; for a re-opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony March 13 that signified the completion of the commissary's renovation.

Following the renovation, the Fort Riley Commissary became the fourth largest commissary in the Army and tenth largest in the Department of Defense.

"It's wonderful," said Krista Barrett, military spouse. "There's a lot more room to actually get around and a lot more products than they had in the past. It makes it a lot more convenient, especially with a lot of the Families being busy. You don't have to make runs off post to get something."

Barrett participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony representing Fort Riley Families with her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Barrett, 601st Aviation Support Battalion, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division; and their 11-year-old son, Tristan.

"This facility improved the quality of life for Soldiers, Families and retirees," she said. "I would like to thank the Army and leadership for providing such a facility."

Batenhorst thanked the commissary's customers for their patience during the renovation.

"I appreciate all of your understanding for putting up with the mess for the last 28 months, and, hopefully, when this is all said and done, we'll give you a premier facility you can shop in and be proud of, and, hopefully, it's an enjoyable shopping trip when you come," he said. "I've done a lot of renovations over the years, and I can tell you none of them are very fun. This one has been especially painful. As you can see, the store has grown quite a bit. We're going to add a lot of new items. It's going to be a phenomenal facility for you to shop in the future."

Batenhorst praised those involved with the project on completing the renovation without closing the store down for a single hour.

"That's almost unheard of for a renovation of this size and magnitude," he said.

Garrison Commander Col. William Clark said that was "truly remarkable."

"I'm very proud of the DeCA team," he said. "They contribute immensely to the quality of life here on Fort Riley for each and every one of us."

The renovation and addition project increased the size of the store by nearly 75 percent and replaced all refrigeration systems and display cases. Eight checkouts were added, and the interior boasts a new, colorful décor.

"Every department in the store is much larger," Howell said. "Our focus has always been on providing world-class customer service, and this store helps us deliver.

"We've scaled up the stock assortment from 14,000 to 19,000 line items. That's significant. Many of the additions are specialty products and club packs."

As the renovation progressed during the past two years, products were moved and are not necessarily in the same location they were before the renovation began. Large signs hanging in the middle of each aisle will help customers find products, and a store map is available in racks at both store entrances, he said.

"Commissary associates are available on the sales floor to help any shopper who needs assistance," Howell said. "If a customer has a question or is having trouble finding a product, we want them to ask any one of our associates for help."