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Charles Sanders works his way down the aisles of newly renovated Osan Air Base commissary in South Korea on Friday. The renovation began in September 2003.
Charles Sanders works his way down the aisles of newly renovated Osan Air Base commissary in South Korea on Friday. The renovation began in September 2003. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)
Charles Sanders works his way down the aisles of newly renovated Osan Air Base commissary in South Korea on Friday. The renovation began in September 2003.
Charles Sanders works his way down the aisles of newly renovated Osan Air Base commissary in South Korea on Friday. The renovation began in September 2003. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)
A youngster samples a free chip at the newly renovated Osan Air Base commissary in South Korea on Friday afternoon. Officials marked the completion pf the project with a brief ceremony and merchandise giveaways.
A youngster samples a free chip at the newly renovated Osan Air Base commissary in South Korea on Friday afternoon. Officials marked the completion pf the project with a brief ceremony and merchandise giveaways. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — With brighter lights, bigger aisles and more merchandise on its shelves, the commissary at Osan Air Base held its official “grand reopening” Friday to mark completion of a major renovation.

The store had remained open during the renovation, which began in September 2003.

“Wider. Bigger. … It’s almost like Wal-Mart … ,” said Sgt. Rochelle Smith, who was shopping Friday afternoon with her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Montenez Smith. Both are soldiers at nearby Camp Humphreys.

“More variety,” she said. “More fruits and vegetables. I think it’s so much better. And we love the fresh deli.”

The renovation was part of a $13.7 million project that includes construction of a perishable foods storage center inside the commissary building.

The center is set for completion in February and will store perishable items for all 12 commissaries on the peninsula, said Nancy O’Nell, Defense Commissary Agency West spokeswoman.

“It’s a building inside a building,” she said.

The renovation has increased the store’s square footage, taking it from 98,691 square feet to 103,467 square feet, according to DECA. On result is that the sales floor area has grown by almost 25 percent.

“They really did a fantastic job of renovating everything, I think,” said Charles Sanders, an aviation contractor who works at nearby Camp Humphreys and has shopped at the commissary for years. “Seems like you’ve got a lot more room, too.”

The store further increased its ability to display merchandise by switching from “coffin-style” to upright freezers. The increased display space is in the store’s produce, frozen foods, chilled foods, and meat sections.

In the meat section, for example, a change from 60 linear feet of coffin-style freezers to the upright variety boosted meat shelf space fourfold.

“They spread it out,” Sanders said. “Very impressive.”

The project also added a new aisle with 144 linear feet of such items as bottled water, rice cakes, pastries, bread and frozen foods.

Décor, including new flooring and lighting, matches that of other DECA commissaries.

In addition, new administrative offices and 18 parking spaces were added.

Sales are expected to increase from $1.14 million to $1.20 million per month, according to DECA.

Officials kicked off the shopping day with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and special promotions including drawings for prizes to be given to customers throughout the weekend.

“It’s a lot nicer,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Rivera, of the 51st Mission Support Squadron, who has been shopping at the commissary since March. “Brighter lit. A lot more things to buy.”

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