The Defense Commissary Agency-Europe is gearing up for its biannual case lot sale later this month, and while more goods will be available this spring than last, far fewer stores plan to participate than in past years.

Two years ago, for example, more than 50 stores took part in this annual rite of spring for bargain hunters. But with the drawdown of forces and the consolidation of resources in communities with multiple commissaries, just 31 stores will stock up this time for the May sale.

“We are rethinking how we do these case lot sales to get the bigger bang for the buck,” said Gerri Young, a spokeswoman for DeCA-Europe.

DeCA officials allow store directors to set their own dates for the two-day sale, and most chose the Memorial Day weekend. Hohenfels opted to hold theirs the week before, while Aviano and Naples in Italy, and Ankara and Incirlik in Turkey decided for different reasons to go a week later. The store in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, plans to hold its case lot sale May 29-30.

“(Such) sales have caught on more and more over the years,” said Ron Trimble, deputy store director at the Patch Barracks commissary in Stuttgart, Germany.

Stuttgart is an example of a community consolidating its efforts at one location. Home to the U.S. European Command, the community has three stores. But with one sale at a single location, officials can more efficiently pool their resources, Young said.

The agency will offer 92 products for sale, ranging from baby diapers and lunch box drinks to cold cereal and various pulp products such as paper towels and baby wipes.

“They are all semi-perishable items,” said Steve Armbruster, chief of marketing for DeCA-Europe. “We have no frozen and chilled products.”

The sales value of all the items is more than $1.5 million, Armbruster said. In all, 123,460 cases will be shipped out to participating stores.

“It’s already in the barn,” Armbruster said, referring to the cases they have arrived at the DeCA distribution center in Germersheim, Germany.

Like a lot of commissaries, Aviano plans to host activities in conjunction with the sale. In past years, store officials have brought in musicians, as well as outdoor grills — and both were smoking.

“Customers get good deals and they can buy in bulk,” said store director Ron Foster.

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