WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Exchange leaders and employees showed off the facility’s $6.4 million renovation to customers in a re-grand opening ceremony Oct. 25 that included ribbon and cake-cutting ceremonies, give-a-ways, special guests and words from local and regional leaders.
Col. Leonard T. Rose, 88th Mission Support Group commander, was joined by Ronny Rexrode, Army and Air Force Exchange Central Regional vice president, Jermaine Wilson, Wright-Patterson Exchange general manager and Donald Basil, store manager in leading the re-grand opening.
“It’s amazing how just changing a few things can make it look much bigger than it was — it looks fantastic,” Rose said.
The renovation began last October and included remodeling both the interior and exterior of the building, new BE FIT and customer service areas, a new Buy Online Pickup In Store service, new Food Court seating, polished concrete floors and a Mural Hero Wall in the mall entrance, as well as infrastructure and other improvements.
“We try to come in every 10 years or so and reimage the store, just from a standpoint of giving it a fresh look with new fixtures,” Rexrode said. “Our customers deserve the newest, latest, and greatest so we try to keep that updated and fresh for our customers.”
Customers were able to visit with the Ben-Gals cheerleaders, Cincinnati Bengals mascot “Who Dey,” and others, while enjoying snacks, some freebies and sales specials.
“I think the reception is great. The feedback I’m getting is all positive,” Wilson said. “We want to make sure that we provide the most updated customer experience to our customers on a daily basis and I think we’ve done that through this renovation.”
The changes were immediately noticeable to some customers, adding to the appreciation of what AAFES contributes to military service.
“It’s brighter and seems more wide open. It’s definitely easier to find things,” said Master Sgt. William Bowers, a first sergeant at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center here. “AAFES has been everywhere that I’ve been, whether it’s Kandahar or back here in the states. It’s a fantastic service that we have available to us.”
April Ingram, a military spouse, only recently arrived to Wright-Patterson and while she wasn’t here to see what the old layout was, she appreciates what the service brings.
“I think it’s great. I can come here and be more relaxed. I don’t have to worry about pushy salespeople,” Ingram said. “I’m a big clearance shopper and they always have really good buy more, save more (deals). Every time we’ve come in, we’ve been greeted really nicely so, we’re enjoying it.”
Rose used the event to remind guests of the lengths AAFES employees go to in order to provide their service.
“Thanks to AAFES for what they do for us,” Rose said. “We’ve all been deployed a lot and we’ve all deployed with AAFES associates that are deployed right there with us, giving us a little piece of home.”
The Exchange contributed $4.95 million from its own earnings to the project, a direct effect of Exchange shoppers, with Wright-Patterson contributing the remaining $1.45 million. Wilson said that besides building new stores and renovation, 100 percent of Exchange earnings support the military community, including Quality-of-Life programs such as Air Force Recreation activities.
Wright-Patterson’s main Exchange building is nearly 40-years old and was last remodeled in 2010.