I am completely bummed that we are moving this summer to a location that does not have a commissary.
When we drove up for a short house-hunting trip, I made sure we drove to the next closest base to see what their commissary is like. A friend had told me it has a small commissary. How small? There were only 6 isles and 3 cashiers.
Not all commissaries are created equal is an understatement.
I was so disappointed. It was instantly obvious that I would not be able to do our weekly grocery shopping at the commissary. I really am bummed. I like my routine and the money we save by shopping there. When it snowed here recently and the bases were closed, I bought our groceries out in town and the bill was $75 more than my usual bill at the commissary. That was an eye-opener.
Every move has its challenges and ever military installation is different. Here in Virginia Beach I am within a 20-minute drive of 3 commissaries. They are each a bit different. The one on JEB Little Creek-Fort Story has a more open floor plan than the others and it is right next to the Exchange, which is very convenient. It is my preferred commissary to shop at, especially since it has more than 20 checkout lanes.
Cellphone reception for some reason seems to be universally poor at commissaries. I’m excited that NAS Oceana Commissary is the first one to test free Wi-Fi. That is so helpful with keeping up with the electronic coupons on my rewards card as I tend to forget to load them ahead of time.
I don’t use the deli, but I have had delicious birthday cakes made at the bakery. Some commissaries do not have a deli or bakery while others have really big and popular ones. Some embrace technology and have a kiosk for customers to order their deli and bakery items while others I’ve shopped at still only have the option to take a number and wait in line. NAS Oceana’s deli actually has its own Facebook page.
It will be strange not to have any of these options on our next assignment. The commissary’s slogan “it’s worth the drive” has always been something I agreed with. There is one more base just within driving distance so I might make a monthly trip there if it turns out to have a good commissary.
I’m sure I’m not alone in facing disappointment on the size difference of commissaries. Naval Base San Diego boasts DeCA’s largest commissary. Its 126,000-square-foot store offers 22,500 items; that’s 2,000 more than the store held before it was remodeled. Imagine if you came from a tiny commissary and walked into that one? You would probably be quite overwhelmed. Bigger isn’t always better to everyone.
I would like to try the coffee kiosks in one of the newer commissaries. You get to blend your own beverage. I haven’t been to one that has such a thing, nor have I been to one that has a health and wellness department. The commissary at Naval Base San Diego has both of those. Perhaps one day we’ll be stationed near a commissary that has one.