Expanded Auto Mini-Mart reopens at Sasebo
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Navy Exchange officials here say they are happy with results of a $2.1 million, 3,200-square-foot addition and renovation of the Auto Mini-Mart.
In April, construction began to transform what then was the NEX Auto Port, to almost double in size. The remodeled facility’s grand opening ceremony was Wednesday morning.
The store combines the base’s gas station and car repair services with the Mini-Mart. The Mini-Mart’s former location closed Wednesday morning, just after the new Auto Mini-Mart opened for business.
“When the ships return from deployment, I think the sailors will be pleasantly surprised,” said Sandra Franklin, Sasebo NEX general manager, at the site Tuesday afternoon.
“I am really looking forward to presenting this to the Sasebo community,” said Jim Caron, retail operations manager. “Finally, a store that was actually built to be a store.”
Previously, the Auto Port — on California Drive near India Basin — sold gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, small convenience items and sodas. The NEX Car Rental business also operated from that site.
The convenience store and package store functions existed separately, several hundred yards down the same street, facing Juliet Basin.
Now all are in the same facility, although in separate sections.
“This will benefit the sailors most by being much closer to the ships. It also features a much larger selection of items than before and a greater variety in those items. We are very happy about the increased freezer space and the walk-in cooler,” Franklin said.
The freezer section includes items from single servings of ice cream to boxes of Omaha Steaks. The walk-in cooler has room for customers to walk inside, where they can select cases of cold beverages rather than singles or six-packs.
The Auto Mini-Mart is the exchange’s first major investment and construction project at a base in Japan, officials said. In the late 1990s, Japan’s government decided it no longer would build facilities on U.S. bases for businesses.
The Navy Exchange Service Command is in the midst of a $15.1 million project to reorganize and enhance how Sasebo base residents shop.
A new $13 million, 58,000-square-foot NEX main store at the site of two demolished warehouses, will join the Mini-Mart. Construction on the new main store is scheduled to begin early in 2005 with completion estimated for October 2007.
Sasebo’s main base has seven NEX operations; Hario Housing Village, about 10 miles from the main base, has three more.