[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                         July 11, 2008

Post Exchange to offer 
new shopping opportunities

      The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) at Fort McCoy will be the first facility in the AAFES system to use a separate 'convertible Vendor Mall' for local businesses to sell their items on post. 

Photo: Fort McCoy Post Exchange personnel work to convert Main PX space to a  Vendor Mall concept to allow various local vendors to display their products. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
Fort McCoy Post Exchange personnel work to convert Main PX space to a  Vendor Mall concept to allow various local vendors to display their products. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

        The new concept, located in building 1538, is called "The Shoppes of Fort McCoy" and now is open for business, with an official grand-opening date to be announced soon.

      Ralph Kleemann, Fort McCoy AAFES general manager, said the Shoppes concept will include various local businesses and be attached to the Main Post Exchange (PX) facility, but will have its own separate entrance/exits and hours of operation.

      "These services and vendors always  have been a part of the floor plan of our current PX, but were limited by space and poor building layout." said Kleemann. "This new concept raises the bar of service we can provide to the installation community by both expanding the selection of vendors we offer and giving those vendors a true place of their own to show off their products and services."   

       Irene Urata, Fort McCoy AAFES Service Business manager, said The Shoppes area will replace the former under-utilized Outdoor Living Section of the Main PX store during the busy summer months.  A final decision on the use of this area in winter months has not been made yet.   

      Multiple local vendors now are open for business in the Shoppes selling imprinted clothing, books, military memorabilia, and personalized name histories. Urata said the area has the potential to support from six to 10 different businesses when full.  Many vendor slots already are allocated for this summer. 

      According to Urata, businesses interested in partnering with AAFES and using The Shoppes area will receive free display support, advertising, and marketing assistance to help best highlight their products and services.  

      "The drive behind this is to better serve the entire Fort McCoy community and further our local commitment to the larger Army Family Covenant. It brings to the installation a selection of items and services we don't or can't currently carry in the existing PX," Urata said. "Customers get an exclusive vendor shopping experience that  brings them more choices; including categories such as jewelry, Tupperware, cosmetics, sun glasses, and  Wisconsin handmade crafts to name a few. "

      Small business owners will want to check out the opportunities here because it gives them a chance to develop and grow their businesses, while keeping their overhead low, she said.  The entire installation population is welcome to take advantage of these additional shopping opportunities and can access The Shoppes area by either outside entrance in front of the Shoppette or PX. 

      "We want this new area to be a place where new products and ideas can be found." Urata said. "We encourage our customers to tell us what kinds of merchandize/services they would like to see in The Shoppes, and we will work to bring those businesses to the installation."

      The initial operating hours for The Shoppes area will be from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Urata noted the businesses have agreed to stay open later if sufficient customer traffic is there to support them.  Because some small business owners have other commitments during the week, the selection may change on the weekends, she said.

      Urata pointed out that like all other AAFES operations on Fort McCoy, the earnings made from The Shoppes area will be returned to the Fort McCoy community through Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs and quality-of-life initiatives at Fort McCoy.   

      For more information about the new The Shoppes concept, personnel can contact Urata at (608) 269-5585.


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