DALLAS — The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) will be expanding the way it serves troops through the installation of fully automated self-serve stores.
The markets will include a variety of fresh and packaged food options, such as salads, fresh fruit and vegetables, protein bars, hot and cold beverages, and more.
The convenience and flexibility of the new stores are intended to improve the quality of life for soldiers, airmen, guardians and department of defense civilians working unusual hours in high-traffic or out-of-the-way areas, according to the retailer.
The stores are an expansion of AAFES' micro market program, which was rolled out in 2014 and expanded over the last few years. The micro markets have served a similar cliental to the planned stores, with sites located in more rural areas with personnel working during off-hours.
The Department of Defense retailer currently operates more than 400 markets across 75 installations, with plans to open more than 85 additional sites in 2024.
"A lot of commanders are approaching the Exchange to ask for unmanned retail markets to meet their communities' needs," said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Osby, AAFES senior enlisted advisor. "The markets can be tailor-fitted, from serving a large office building to opening a nano unit for a small location. The Exchange goes where the troops go, including on an installation level."
The Exchange's unmanned retail markets all offer healthier food choices as part of the Exchange's BE FIT 360 program, which focuses on holistic wellness and a healthy lifestyle, and provides options that meet the National Automatic Merchandising Association Fit Pick requirements. Select market locations will also offer over-the-counter medicines, personal hygiene items and other sundries.
Since 1895, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service has provided valued goods and services to armed service members at exclusive military pricing. The Exchange is the 54th-largest retailer in the United States, with 100% of its earnings supporting military communities. It is a nonappropriated fund entity of the Department of Defense and is overseen by a board of directors.