By Kaylee LaRocque
NAS Jax Public Affairs Officer

A ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new NAS Jacksonville Commissary was held Feb. 2 as hundreds of patrons came out to shop at the new facility. 

As the crowd looked on during the short ceremony, NAS Jax Commanding Officer Capt. Sean Haley, Defense Commissary Agency Director and CEO Joseph Jeu and Commissary Store Director Troy Collins cut the ribbon to open the new store.

"When I first arrived here two years ago, our then store manager, Larry Bentley walked me through the construction site as we began this lengthy and challenging project," said Haley.

"I admit it was hard to picture all this when all we had was a foundation. But over the next two years, the building continued to take shape and we began to realize that this store would certainly exceed all our expectations."

The $30 million facility offers a 64,000 sq. ft. sales floor of aisle after aisle of food products along with a large produce section, seafood station, bakery and a new Living Well Corner of organic and natural products. It is also built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver standards featuring 154 skylights and light sensors to greatly reduce energy consumption. 

"The first area you see when you walk in the door is our Living Well section," Jeu told the crowd during the ceremony.

"There are more than 1,500 items from frozen and chilled to dry and fresh that make up the Living Well assortment. We call it a store within a store." 

Jeu went on to thank all those involved in the project including the NAS Jax team, general contractor Hoar Construction, vendors, manufacturers and the patrons. 

"Today, and every day, it's our goal to make you shopping experience something you look forward to," he said.

"It's not enough just to have a new facility and low prices. Our goal is to provide you with great customer service." 

Shoppers spent nearly $61.5 million at the NAS Jax Commissary in 2016 which includes a 5 percent surcharge. The new store was built entirely from these surcharges. 

As patrons entered the new commissary for the first time, many commented on the increased size, ease of shopping and great customer service. 

"I have been in line since 4:30  a.m.," said Ray Carter. "This store opening is something that we have been dreaming of and waiting for. We put our money into it and I look forward to shopping here for many years."

"This new store is so organized and I was impressed by the organic section," added AMAN Brieana Huie. "I didn't go to the old store much but I plan to do a lot more shopping at the new one."

After merchandise is removed from the old store in March, it will immediately be torn down to increase parking with around 550 spots for Navy Exchange and commissary patrons.