Lejeune commissary recognized for performance

4 Apr 2012 | Lance Cpl. Paul Peterson

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s commissary recently received a unique distinction for its service to the base community. The commissary was nominated for the “best superstore” competition, which pits various stores from around the world against each other.

MCB Camp Lejeune’s commissary will compete against other superstores in the U.S. The store received numerous “noteworthy performance” awards over the years, said Michael Dunn, the commissary’s director, who has worked for the store aboard MCB Camp Lejeune for eight years now, but this is the first time the store was able to nab a spot in the superstore competition.

“It’s a highlight,” said Dunn. “It’s a very high distinction to be selected. It means that your sales are doing great and your inventory is good. All the figures they use are (hitting the mark).”

There are around 30 superstores serving the military communities worldwide. MCB Camp Lejeune’s commissary will compete with other stores catering to people in the U.S., and it is the only store nominated from the eastern region for the superstore category.

The store has improved in its sales and inventory, giving it that extra boost needed to make it into the competition. In fact, the commissary aboard MCB Camp Lejeune has been quite fortunate, said Dunn. The larger the store, the harder it is to meet the criteria for the competition. The commissary’s inventory, a prime factor in the competition, is the best it’s been in years and the sales numbers are also up.

“We have anything from the relatively inexpensive up to some of the premium items,” said Dunn. “With the military, it’s so much different because it’s not like a retail store with a select clientele. In the military, we’ve got anybody from anywhere.”

It takes a team to put up the numbers seen at MCB Camp Lejeune’s commissary. Superstores often bring in more than $4 million per month. A combination of commissary employees and contract workers help fulfill the labor needs for such an operation.

Contract employees help with things such as stocking and some of the special services provided at the commissary. The sushi sold at the store is one of the many services they provide. Dunn also has a team of around 90 commissary employees. The store also has baggers, many of whom are military retirees and dependents, but not paid by the commissary. Rather, they’re pay comes from the tips provided by patrons.

It’s pretty much a 24-hour process, said Dunn. The commissary is technically only closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.

It all comes as a service to the military community. Commissaries date back to the days of the western frontier. While the military has long since set aside its spurs, the commissary still brings a taste of home to service members, their families and retirees around the world. What is more, the commissary does not function for profit.

“We’re selling at cost,” said Dunn. “This is a benefit for the military.”