Civilian Employees Celebrate New Exchange Privileges

Davis-Monthan Exchange cashier Myrna Suarez checks out 355th Mission Support Group Executive Administrative Assistant Starla Davis on May 3. It was the first time Davis, a civilian Department of Defense employee at Davis-Monthan for 38 years, was able to shop at the Exchange.

For 38 years, Starla Davis has worked at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base as a civilian Department of Defense employee.

On May 3, two days after a change in DoD policy opened the Exchange’s doors to DoD and Coast Guard civilian employees, the 355th Mission Support Group executive administrative assistant made her first purchases at the Davis-Monthan BX: fitness bars and cookies, along with scented soap from the Bath and Body Works concept shop.

Davis-Monthan Exchange cashier Myrna Suarez checks out 355th Mission Support Group Executive Administrative Assistant Starla Davis on May 3. It was the first time Davis, a civilian Department of Defense employee at Davis-Monthan for 38 years, was able to shop at the Exchange.

355th Mission Support Group Commander Col. Michael Borders, Superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Cedric Foster and two of Davis’ active-duty co-workers gave Davis a tour of the Exchange to help celebrate her new shopping privileges.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a very long time,” Davis said. “It makes us civilians feel more like we’re a part of the team. It makes me think, ‘Wow, we’re more part of the family than we thought we were.’”

Exchange Director/CEO Tom Shull said the Exchange is honored to welcome Davis, along with 575,000 other DoD and Coast Guard civilian employees who can now shop at their local Exchange.

“Civilian employees are critical to the Department of Defense and Coast Guard missions,” he said. “In addition to honoring these employees’ contributions, expanding the Exchange’s shopping base enhances the organization’s support for military Quality-of-Life programs and gives exchanges greater buying power, ensuring the benefit remains strong for Warfighters and their families for years to come.”

The effort to welcome the new shoppers was a significant undertaking for the Exchange, with the Policy, Merchandising, Human Resources, Services and Corporate Communication teams maintaining constant communication with one another and senior leadership to advance awareness of the new benefit and provide support to the field.

355th Mission Support Group Executive Assistant Tech. Sgt. Ocean Shipp, Davis-Monthan Exchange General Manager Mikel Hunter and 355th MSG Executive Assistant 1st Lt. Sadiah Robinson give 355th MSG Executive Administrative Assistant Starla Davis a tour of the Davis-Monthan Exchange on May 3. From left, Shipp, Hunter, Davis and Robinson.

BXs and PXs across the country also did their part, communicating the expansion through signage outdoors and at non-Exchange installation facilities, posts to local Exchange and installation social media pages, securing mentions in installation-wide command emails, fliers, stories in installation public affairs channels, and more.

Overall sales figures point to the efforts having paid off: On May 1, the first day of the expanded privileges, several Exchanges saw double-digit sales increases compared with last year. Many Exchanges reported the highest sales occurred in the PowerZone, health and beauty care, and sporting goods departments.

With nearly 22,000 civilian employees, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall has one of the highest populations of new shoppers among installations served by the Exchange. The installation’s PX experienced a 14% uptick the day the new benefit debuted.

“Whatever their unit or mission may be, civilian employees still support the military community on post,” said JBM-HH General Manager JoAnne Cahalan. “They’re here every day supporting the mission, so we’re honored to welcome them to shop tax-free and help support our efforts to enhance the Quality of Life of Warfighters, because that’s what it’s all about.”

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4 Comments

  1. Sheila Kim Frazier on May 11, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Can they shop at the commissary?

    • Robert Philpot on May 17, 2021 at 9:40 am

      Sorry for the delayed reply, Sheila. Commissaries are not part of the Exchange system and are not included in the new DoD and Coast Guard civilian Exchange access policy.

      Robert Philpot
      The Exchange Post

  2. Mercedes Picardo on May 11, 2021 at 11:46 am

    Good Afternoon,

    It would be really nice to be able to Shop at the Commissary too and really feel that we belong to the family. As of now, we are not allowed ( civilian employees of DOD) to buy at the Commissary.

  3. Don Bruce on May 12, 2021 at 9:06 am

    As a AAFES retiree, will we ever be able to shop in the commissary?

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