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Commissary takes extra strides to continue service for military community

Shoppers browse the Commissary May 15, 2018, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The store will close at 3 p.m. June 24 and remain closed through June 26 in order to reset of the entire sales floor. It will reopen at 9 a.m. June 27. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Like many stores around the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hill AFB Commissary has the challenge of keeping shelves stocked, managing crowds of worried shoppers and sanitizing stores. Currently, the store is operating modified hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Access is restricted to authorized ID card holders only. No guests. Also, “Early Bird” shopping has been temporarily suspended. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

The Hill Air Force Base Commissary provides food goods to a large local military community both on and off base, and with the recent concerns involving COVID-19 and the March 19 earthquake in northern Utah, they have seen a dramatic increase in customers stocking up on supplies.

Regularly serving around 1,100 customers a day, the store saw an increase of 2,000 customers per day shortly after the earthquake.

The Commissary, like many grocery stores around the country, have the challenge of keeping shelves stocked, managing crowds of worried shoppers and sanitizing stores.

“We have had to adapt to the current situation and make some changes, but we would like our customer base to remember that the Commissary is considered mission essential, and will continue to provide service throughout the virus crisis,” Scott Conrey, Commissary store director.

The Commissary has experienced some product shortages, such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and wipes, but dedicated employees work day and night to ensure they are able to meet basic customer needs by restocking shelves with goods as fast as new product arrives.

Some necessary changes made include product rationing and hourly product quantity evaluation to ensure the greatest number of customers can get at least a limited supply of highly sought-after products.

Additionally, “authorized shopping privilege” is being enforced at the door with a 100% ID check, and the store is limiting the number of customers in the store at a time. No guests are allowed (this includes dependents who forget to bring their ID with them to the store) and “Early Bird” shopping has been suspended.

The Commissary is open seven days a week. However, the store currently closes one hour early (store hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) to allow store workers to keep shelves re-stocked and provide additional cleaning measures to all areas of the store.

Conrey said the early closure and other changes will be continually reevaluated.

“New enhanced cleaning and sterilization practices have been adopted, with employee and customer safety in mind,” Conrey said. “Additionally, all involved with resupply are putting in extra effort to expedite product delivery, from delivery truck drivers working overtime, security forces getting trucks on base and to the store without delay, to commissary employees and volunteers restocking selves.

“I would like to extend my gratitude for our customers. Everyone has been very understanding and cooperative with shortages and rationing and inconvenient changes,” Conrey said. “We are very happy to serve the best customers in the world.”