The commissary! One of my favorite perks of being a part of the military community! What is the commissary? Well it’s your on base grocery store. The commissary is run by DeCA (Defense Commissary Agency). The commissary sells food and household goods at cost, with an additional 5% surcharge to military members, retirees & their families. While grocery shopping might seem strait forward there are a few things you should know before you head to the commissary for the first time.
You Need Your ID
Of course, you’re on base so you have it right? You will have to show your ID at the register when you get there. So just be prepared.
Tip Your Baggers
Baggers at the commissary work for tips. So make sure you have cash on hand to give them a tip. There’s no hard and fast rule for tipping baggers that I’ve seen (please someone correct me if I’m wrong). I’ve heard a dollar a bag, and other’s may do a flat rate. Your baggers also will bring your groceries out to the car for you and help put them in your car. I usually bring my bags out myself, as I usually get that much so I tend to tip less than I would if they were bringing them to the car. So use your best judgement!
Don’t Shop On Pay Day!
Just don’t. The lines can be quite literally around the store. This has happened to me when I’ve gone unaware to the commissary at Camp Lejeune. The line did more fairly fast, but I did jump in half way around the store by the dairy case. It’s also good to avoid the lunch rush and when everyone is leaving for the day.
Speaking of Lines…
Lines work slightly differently than your usual grocery store. It seems to work slightly differently at each commissary as well, but generally you wait in one big long line, with only one person at a register at a time. A person, or automated sign will direct you to the next available cashier when it’s your turn to check out. Usually if it’s busy they will have people directing traffic.
You Can Use Coupons
Around the first of the month, military store coupons come out. Usually they are handed out at the commissary as you walk in. Take them, you can only use them at military stores. Additionally you can use manufacturers coupons found online, on products, or in the paper. Do make sure you read the commissary’s coupon policy. A new feature is the Rewards Card. I’m ashamed to say I’ve not yet gotten mine! All you have to do is pick one up at the Commissary and register it to start enjoying the benefits!
Case Lot Sales
If you enjoy stores like BJ’s and Costco then you’ll love the Case Lot Sales. Case lot sales are like sidewalk sales with cases of your favorite products on a special sale. They run occasionally, however, lately they have fallen victim to sequestration and budget issues. However, you can keep up to date on them here.
Commissaries offer your favorite brand name products at a 30% discount (believe me I’ve found that to be accurate, it’s way cheaper shopping at the commissary rather than off base). They also usually offer a selection of local products, depending on area. They are also steadily increasing their organic selection of products. I will be covering how to shop organic at the commissary in a future post so stay tuned my green friends! Got a question about the commissary? Ask in the comments!