European edition, Friday, July 27, 2007

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Workers are stocking Grafenwöhr’s new commissary with more than 10,000 product lines — more than twice as many as there are in the base’s old store — in preparation for its grand opening on Sept. 26.

On Thursday, 37 full-time employees, already at work at the new commissary, were busy installing shelves and signs and stocking the store with goods such as ice cream, peanut butter, cooking oil, toothpaste, noodles and paper towels.

Defense Commissary Agency reset specialist Laurence Mitchell supervised the move into the new store, choreographing placement of items in line with a shop master plan. The master plan is the same one used to stock other commissaries in Europe, he said.

“You can go into stores at Vogelweh or Ramstein and it will be basically the same set-up,” he said.

Initially, workers are stacking a small amount of each product in each section so they will know where to put the rest of the items when the store is fully stocked, Mitchell said.

Workers will monitor products in the new store to make sure anything nearing the end of its shelf life is removed and sold in the old store before the grand opening, he said.

Grafenwöhr store director Chudri Najdawi said new items sold at the commissary will include many organic foods and more types of chilled or frozen foods such as ice cream and pizzas. Prepared dinners for single soldiers also will be available.

There will be more kinds of meat with 112 meat line items available, compared with 47 at the old store. There also will be a self-service bakery and a delicatessen able to make sandwiches and salads to order, Najdawi said.

The new commissary will have 10 checkouts compared with four at the old facility. Four of the new checkouts will be self-check stands where customers with 10 or fewer items can scan their own products, then pay at a machine using cash or a card, he said.

DeCA Europe public affairs officer Gerri Young said the new store includes 27,337 square feet of floor space compared to 6,366 square feet at the old commissary.

DeCA spent $14.2 million on the new store, with the funds coming from a 5 percent surcharge on goods sold at commissaries.

Mitchell said the new store is not the largest commissary in Europe, but it is the most modern.

“The old (Grafenwöhr) commissary is a mom-and-pop operation,” he said. “ The community is going to be very surprised when they go from that store to here on the grand opening.”

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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