New Commissary changes show future additions, opportunities

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

New changes to the Columbus Air Force Base Commissary have begun during the upgrade process that is sure to catch the eye of several customers.

Many shoppers will notice food items have moved from their normal location to a temporary spot in order to make room for brand new freezer and refrigeration units.

Phase one of the upgrade started in the old soda and chip area in 2016 before they were moved out and construction on that side of the building began. According to Greg Runyon, Assistant Commissary Officer, they moved on to the second phases which involved bringing in a new set of freezers which are currently being installed.

“We hope to have them finished and stocked up over the weekend,” Runyon said. “There was a slight delay during the holiday season that complicated a few things, but they are working aggressively to incorporate other areas to catch up and complete it on time.”

Currently all of the upgrades are projected to be finished Aug. 17, 2017, and the finished product can already be seen coming to fruition, Runyon said. They have emptied out the old bread section and knocked down the surrounding walls. That location has been marked as the new permanent location of the sushi bar, the Grab and Go drink and sandwich coolers, and a brand new rotisserie chicken stand, right outside the self-checkouts.

“A rotisserie chicken stand is something that customers have been asking us about for years,” Runyon said. “Now we finally get to bring one here.”

Despite all the construction, the Commissary does not plan on any closures in the future due to the upgrade. According to Runyon, most work that would require the facility to shut down is scheduled for Monday when they are closed regularly.

Upcoming changes include replacing all refrigeration on the sales floor to include deli, produce and meat department cases. Several refrigerator cases will also have multi-deck shelves much like other grocery stores, Runyon said.

“We haven’t had a refrigeration upgrade in the store since 1996,” Runyon said. “These cases are 20 years old, so we are finally joining the 21st Century. It will be cleaner, more organized and it will be easier to find what you are looking for.”

Runyon also mentioned that more shelf space means they can offer a wider variety of groceries and more. Along with those changes are new floor and ceiling tiles across the store and a new paint scheme on the walls.

“This is an example of what happens to the surcharge dollars that a lot of people ask questions about at the register,” Runyon said. “The five percent that was required by Congress to be added to every order. This renovation is being paid for out of those funds.”

Many customers already love the new changes and while the chaos of moving items around can make shopping a little confusing, customers appreciate the phased process that keeps the Commissary open, said Jean O’Neil, U.S. Air Force retired. Several employees have also expressed their excitement for the changes.

“I love the changes,” said Quintina Walters, Commissary Store Associate. “It’s bringing life back to the store. The bright colors bring out happy faces and happy customers.”

Despite the “growing pains,” Runyon has high spirits for the changes and wants all shoppers to stay assured of the upgrades.

“I think it’s going to be wonderful for the store. It’s a rough road because of how the phase work has us moving things and it gets things out of order,” Runyon said. “When this is done, it’s going to be a beautiful Commissary and it’s going to be first rate. It’s going to be a wonderful benefit for Columbus Air Force Base.”