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Military commissary in Virginia to be one of the first in US to sell beer and wine

By BROCK VERGAKIS | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: June 28, 2018

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Tribune News Service) — Shoppers at a Virginia Beach commissary will soon be able to buy beer with their pretzels and wine with their cheese.

The commissary at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story will be one of the first in the nation to sell beer and wine starting July 26, according to the Defense Commissary Agency.

Commissaries already sell just about every other item typically found in a grocery store. But the only places to get beer and wine to go on military bases are exchanges. Selling alcohol at commissaries will allow customers to eliminate an extra stop that they wouldn't have to make at a commercial grocery store.

The Little Creek location is one of 12 commissaries around the country that will be part of a 90-day test period that's used to ensure the business systems and ordering processes between exchanges and commissaries are in sync before beer and alcohol sales are rolled out to other U.S. locations, according to Defense Commissary Agency spokesman Kevin Robinson.

No beer and wine sales are planned for overseas locations and Robinson said a decision hasn't been made on whether to sell beer and wine at "very small" U.S. commissaries. The other commissary locations in Hampton Roads are at Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth and Langley Air Force Base in Hampton.

Robinson said beer and wine prices at commissaries will be similar to what they are at local exchanges. The commissaries will purchase their beer and wine from local exchanges, which use sales to fund morale, welfare and recreation programs.

Commissaries sell their products at cost, often leading to significant discounts compared with commercial retailers. In the South Atlantic region, commissary shoppers saved an average of 18.4 percent on their groceries compared with what they would pay at commercial stores. To help fund the modernization of old stores and construction of new ones, all commissary customers pay a 5 percent surcharge.

The commissary is open to those on active duty, National Guard and Reserve members, military retirees, Medal of Honor recipients, 100 percent disabled veterans, and their authorized family members.

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