By Cpl. Samuel Han (IMCOM)May 21, 2012
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea -- K-16 Community members were thrilled to see their long-anticipated commissary open, May 17. The $3.8 million project would give the more than 1,400 authorized shoppers living in the vicinity of the K-16 Air Field access to over 4,500 items of groceries, produce and meat products.
"This commissary was originally brought up at an Army Family Action Plan meeting and, as you can see, the AFAP works because the commissary is here now," said Robert Vagasky, K-16 commissary store manager.
Prior to the construction of the commissary, Soldiers and Families wanting to buy groceries had to make the laborious trip to U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan and back. This trip had to be taken either by bus or other means such as privately owned vehicles, taxis, or public transportation. The trip, which could take up to one hour each direction, was not an easy one for Community members to take.
Julianne Hughes, wife of 1st Lt. Christopher Hughes, said that the trip became even more difficult when also having to take care of a baby.
"I would have to go plan a day and make it a whole day just to go to Yongsan and get the groceries," said Hughes. "It was just stressful and inconvenient and I was always exhausted when I got home."
Hughes stated that every time she went shopping for groceries, she had to carry back a week or two-week's worth of food along with her baby. In addition, since groceries included items like milk and meats, she would have to rush back home to prevent them from spoiling, as she drove from Yongsan all the way to Pangyo, where she lived.
Although there were local alternatives such as E-mart, Hughes said that these were not very helpful in her case. Hughes explained that her baby, Parker, could only eat Soy Formula and she had trouble finding the right groceries in Korean stores.
"It was really challenging because I know they have similar products but I obviously cannot read Korean, so I didn't know if I was getting the right things," Hughes said.
Hughes also mentioned that items sold locally tended to be pricier than similar items sold in the commissary, adding to her reluctance in using local venues.
Although not as big as the Yongsan Commissary, the K-16 Commissary provides a good selection of groceries, produce and meat products. In addition, deli, bakery and any other products available in the Osan Commissary can be ordered at K-16, which would be available for pick up within 48 hours.
Regarding items sold in the commissary, Vagansky also said, "Adjustments can be made to tailor to the Community, as necessary. We're here for the Community and we're open to change, so if you have any ideas or suggestions, please bring them forward."
Vagansky stated that although there were no suggestion boxes placed in the store, his door was always open for Community members to offer their suggestions.
"We're here to do the best we can with what we've got," Vagansky said.