Shoppers turn out to get a look at the new Camp Humphreys commissary Thursday during its grand opening.

Shoppers turn out to get a look at the new Camp Humphreys commissary Thursday during its grand opening. (Roger Edwards / Courtesy of U.S. Army)

PYONGTAEK, South Korea — Camp Humphreys opened a new $8.3 million commissary Thursday, marking another step in transforming the base into an expanded U.S. military hub.

The new commissary boasts three times the sales area of the one it replaced, which opened in 1988 in a renovated building.

But even the new commissary will have to be expanded or replaced with a bigger one eventually, said Defense Commissary Agency spokeswoman Nancy O’Nell, because the U.S. military is transforming the base into what eventually will be its biggest installation in South Korea.

“It’s not known when that will go forward,” O’Nell said. “We’re taking our lead” from the U.S. military command in South Korea “and we’ll build our commissaries or expand our commissaries to suit the need of the military troops stationed in Korea.”

The new commissary was planned in 1999, before the Department of Defense decided Camp Humphreys would become a much bigger base, said Susan Barkley, a Camp Humphreys spokeswoman.

On Thursday, the commissary’s initial customers gave it favorable reviews.

“It seemed like more products and a little more variety,” said Sgt. Lakeysha Rule, an administrative sergeant with the Army’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Area III Support Activity.

The old commissary “was very crowded and shopping could get kind of uncomfortable because the aisles were packed,” she said, “but it seems like there’s more space in there, which would make it easier to go shopping.”

Customers will find produce, dairy, chilled meat and frozen-food departments are larger than those in the old commissary, O’Nell said. The new store also will stock 1,000 items more than the former one did.

“They have expanded every department,” Barkley said. “That means … more milk, more meat, more produce, as well as additional items.

“The main benefit is that in the past, a lot of people either had to drive to Osan or order things to be brought in special,” she said. “The new commissary is going to cut that back quite a bit.” Osan, about 10 miles north of Camp Humphreys, is about a 30-minute drive away.

The new, 20,629-square-foot structure replaces an 8,313-square-foot building. The sales area is 10,930 square feet, compared with 3,688 square feet in the former commissary, O’Nell said.

The older building, to be demolished later this month, is to be replaced by July with parking for 117 vehicles, she said.

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