ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The APG Exchange is undergoing renovations in response to a significantly decreased customer base.

"We are reducing some inventory, but also making sure we have the merchandise our customers really want and need," said Exchange Manager Debbie Armendariz.

APG's active duty population decreased by more than half during the Base Realignment and Closure moves, and so did its sales. APG's Exchange sales steadily declined from $10 million in 2008 to an expected $4 million in 2012.

Armendariz said the store has struggled to make a profit since its pre-BRAC days, when it was not uncommon to sell 20 to 30 laptops per day on weekends.

Despite these challenges, she feels confident that the current renovations will improve operations and ensure the right items are available to customers.

"Yes, some items will be discontinued, but we will add other items, the right items," said Armendariz. "These are not casual decisions. We have taken a hard look at what is actually moving off the shelves; we've done extensive analyses and are looking at what our changing population wants."

Inventory will be reduced by 25 percent, but Armendariz calls it a smart reduction.

"The automotive department will go from 20 feet to 12 feet but we'll now include gas cans and oil, items we previously did not sell but needed to be there."

Some of the brand names that will find a new home in the APG store include Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Chaus and Hearts of Palm. And to answer the desire for high-end purses, Armendariz continues to pull Coach purses from the Fort Meade store to APG.

"But that's the case for any item. Whenever we don't have an item our customers want and we sell it at another store, we can usually get it for them within a week," said Armendariz, referring to the store's ability to shuttle items from neighboring Exchange stores.

Items that will be discontinued include plastic dinnerware, formerly a hot seller among younger Soldier populations living in barracks.

The store will also sell fewer CDs and DVDs, but that's a worldwide trend as customers purchase and consume more of their music and movies digitally.

eReaders, portable media players Internet streaming sites have taken a toll on the movie and music industry, but that's simply a sign of the times, said Armendariz.

As with any department store, electronics are a top-seller, and the APG Exchange will continue to carry iPads, flat screen TVs, smart phones, Blu-ray players and other in-demand items. The outdoor living section with its seasonal gardening items will return again in the summer, and the number of baby and preschool toys will increase.

Armendariz said there are no plans to decrease hours or personnel.

"We are still here to serve the best customers in the world," she said. "We are not shutting our doors, and we will continue to funnel our profits to MWR to help underwrite quality-of-life programs for our Soldiers and Families."

For more information or to provide feedback about Exchange services, contact Armendariz at 410-272-6828, or e-mail armendariz@aafes.com.

Shopping options

Customers are encouraged to take advantage of the Exchange shuttle service which transports products not available in the APG store from Fort Meade, Fort Belvoir, Dover Air Force Base or Andrews Air Force Base. The free service delivers products to APG Exchange customers every Tuesday. Visit the customer service desk to submit a ticket.

The "Click to Brick" program on the Exchange website, www.shopmyexchange.com, allows customers to order items to be shipped to the APG Exchange. Check to make sure the product is labeled "Click to Brick."

Customers can also shop the Exchange quarterly catalog, which customers can access online or obtain a free hardcopy in the store. Smaller catalogs devoted to appliances, bridal, mattresses and tactical gear are also published annually.