The commissary has a long history of serving the military community. The idea of purchasing goods at-cost came about in 1825 to help Army personnel. It provides a huge relief to the service member when it’s tough to get necessities at a decent price.
The commissary we’re used to today began in 1867, which means the commissary has been operating for almost 150 years, offering groceries and other household goods to military members.
Overseas commissaries started at the end of the 19th century in the Philippines and China. Of course, it’s since multiplied to other OCONUS locations. In addition, the benefit now includes all branches of the military including Guard, Reservists and their family members in addition to retirees. In 1990, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) was founded, which consolidated the commissary program. By forming DeCA, it allows for a streamlined and unified way to supply all commissaries.
The commissary benefit has helped military families generation after generation. My parents still shop at the commissary and my father joined the Air Force in 1979. They manage to get lots of different items at reasonable prices and my husband and I also benefit from shopping at the commissary. I have to mention my grandparents too. Between the three generations, my family encompasses Navy, Air Force and now Army ties!
Savings for military families average at about 30% compared to civilian grocery stores. That percentage offers a pretty substantial discount over brand name products. Although the commissary provides lower prices, big-box stores like Walmart and Super Target can be competitive when compared to the commissary. Another argument is that the commissary doesn’t offer generic goods.
My husband and I tend to stick to the commissary mostly because the grocery goods we commonly get are priced cheaper there. Also, we’re still a relatively small family, so the bulk goods we purchase are all economical. Not to mention when we buy during a case lot sale, we don’t need certain items for months and months! There are so many other reasons why I prefer the commissary. MilitaryShoppers has an awesome list of reasons why you should shop at the commissary.
One of my favorite reasons for shopping at the commissary is the international aisle. It’s one of the only local locations that offer Filipino cuisine, so I can get my cultural fix. My parents drive to their local commissary in Texas for the same reason to stock up on the different Filipino groceries because it’s priced well. It’s difficult to find certain items sometimes! No matter where you’ve been stationed, I’m sure there is a good representation of it at your commissary. I love that there is a chance to try international food without having to be stationed there too.
The commissary continues to modernize by incorporating online resources to help families get the most out of their commissary experience. Military families can sign up for the commissary rewards card and app. The commissary rewards card gives you the capability to redeem coupons online. In addition, they have the Click 2 Go program for select commissaries that allows military families to buy goods online and pick them up at a later date. It saves time and is convenient.
Despite its age, the commissary is still a wonderful resource for the military community. That’s why I keep shopping trips to the commissary on my agenda.