SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — When shoppers buy groceries at the Hario Village commissary, they’re buying from one of the best food stores outside the United States, DeCA officials announced.

The store was named the No. 1 small, overseas commissary by the Defense Commissary Agency last week.

Customers rated the store highly for its service, and the commissary also earned top scores in financial management, a local commissary official said.

It was one of five commissaries worldwide recognized for excellence during the agency’s annual conference and training in Virginia, according to DeCA.

The only other overseas commissary to be recognized is at U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder, Germany, which took the top prize for large commissaries, DeCA said. Kadena Air Base on Okinawa was the runner-up in that category.

"A lot of people did a lot of work in getting that award," said John Smith, Sasebo Naval Base commissary manager. "It was a community effort."

The Hario commissary, at the remote Hario housing complex, was graded on four criteria — accountability, cost of operation, customer service and sales.

Customers were surveyed on their opinions of the store and gave positive feedback, Smith said.

The store also scored well in what’s called inventory intolerance, or its ability to keep a zero-balance budget, Smith said.

"We don’t make any money, and we don’t lose any money," he said.

On Friday, Jason Martin, a stay-at-home dad and husband of a local teacher, was shopping at the Hario commissary with his daughter, Abby.

Martin, who shops at the store about once a week, said he occasionally has to ask for assistance when he cannot find a product, such as the time he was looking for frozen baker’s dough to make Greek pastries.

"Stuff I can’t find — they can actually get it for you if you just tell them what you need," he said. "I asked them for that (dough), and they got it in."

Martin said he’s shopped at other commissaries in Japan and Germany, and the Hario compares well.

"It’s probably the smaller one I’ve been to, but it’s nice," he said.

DeCA operates a worldwide chain of grocery stores that serve servicemembers, their families and others.

According to the agency, commissary shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on purchases, compared to commercial prices, which equals a savings of about $3,000 annually for a family of four.

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