MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- The new commissary opened its doors for customers during the grand opening ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, June 21, 2016.
Designed to anticipate and meet the needs of shoppers, the new grocery store is approximately 50 percent larger, with 52,710 total square feet and is located between the Kintai Inn and Kawashimo housing area.
“We needed a new commissary because we needed more items and space due to the growing population on the air station,” said Buddie Kolath, store director.
A crowd of residents observed as U.S. Marine Corps Col. Robert V. Boucher, station commanding officer, Col. Daniel Shipley, Marine Aircraft Group 12 commanding officer, Sgt. Maj. Christopher Garza, station sergeant major, Joseph H. Jeu, director and CEO of the Defense Commissary Agency, Buddie Kolath, Kim Shipley, Marcela Londono and Carla Bates, station residents, conducted the ribbon-cutting ceremony, signifying the grand opening of the new store.
“The base has been under construction for a decade, and we’ve disrupted the lives of the families on a regular basis by tearing up roads, streets and parking lots,” said Boucher. “Now we are introducing something that gives back to the community, and we were excited to see everyone’s faces as they entered the new store.”
Sections of the improved facility include fresh produce, meat and frozen departments, an international delicatessen, a bakery and fresh, handmade sushi.
“This new commissary will be beneficial,” said Daniel VanWinkle, station resident. “The shelves won’t run out as quickly; they can restock and have more items available to customers.”
In 1989, the former commissary opened with just 33,400 total square feet, a sales floor of 13,400 square feet, only four serviced and two self-checkout stands, and a stock of 9,000 items. The new store features three additional checkout stands, a 22,000 square foot sales floor and an assortment of approximately 10,000 items.
“The new store has a much larger sales floor, wider aisles and beautiful interior décor,” said Jeu. “There’s plenty of space for off-shelf displays . . . your deli and bakery departments are larger, and you now have sushi-to-go.”
Operated by Defense Commissary Agency, the store sells products to shoppers with an average savings of more than 30 percent compared to commercial prices.
The new commissary costs approximately $21.95 million, and it incorporates various sustainable and energy-saving features such as energy-efficient motion-sensor and interior lighting fixtures, energy-conserving night curtains on open display cases, enhanced insulation, low-maintenance concrete floors, water-saving plumbing fixtures, high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, a refrigeration monitoring and control system, lighting and utility meters, non-ozone-depleting refrigerants, and low volatile adhesives, sealants, paints and coatings.
“Our goal is to provide you with great customer service,” said Jeu. “Kolath and his team are here to give you the best service possible at your new commissary. This is your commissary, your benefit, and we are here to serve you.”