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Don’t Be Alarmed about Early Shopping Options

Are early shopping options offered at commissaries all the same at all stores? Not quite… but don’t be alarmed! (About early shopping, that is… but if you are going to shop early, definitely set your alarm clock! Two totally different things, I assure you.)

Before you decide to hit snooze and trade commissary shopping for some extra shuteye, as your consumer advocate, I’m here to break it down for you.

Early Bird Hours

Some commissaries offer early bird hours. Participating locations generally display these hours clearly at the store and on their respective store pages of our website.

The store size, customer base and needs of the local military community vary by installation, so it would be impractical for us to take a one-size fits-all approach to early bird shopping. That’s why we decide where to offer this option on a case-by-case basis.

For stores that do offer this option, early bird shopping allows all customers to enter a store for a set time before its normal operating hours begin for their convenience, grab-and-go shopping or to pick up a few items when their schedules allow.

Because commissaries are technically not open yet during early bird hours, full-service checkout lines will not be open during this time, except at stores that do not have self-checkouts. For all other participating stores, early bird shoppers must ring up their orders at a self-checkout, where they will be limited to the maximum number of items allowed for that self-checkout register.

(Of course, if you would prefer to have a cashier ring up your order at a full-service register, you can always wait for the store’s normal operating hours to begin.)

Early Shopping for Disabled Customers

We also offer an early shopping option for our disabled customers. This is not the same as early bird shopping, although the times may overlap at stores with early bird hours. One major difference is that this option is offered at all commissaries; another is that it’s only available to disabled customers, rather than all customers at that store.

You should find a sign posted near the commissary entrance that states, “Physically disabled customers may enter the commissary to shop up to one half-hour before regularly scheduled opening time.”

Commissaries offer this option because our disabled customers often find it easier to navigate the store and move at their own pace before the stores open and become crowded with customers.

This means these customers are able to get a head-start on their shopping and cashiers will be available to ring up their orders when the store opens for its regular operating hours.

Supporting Our Disabled Customers

Obviously, this is not the only way we support our disabled customers! Commissaries must offer this support with the least possible inconvenience to these customers. Possible accommodations include:

  • Configuring one or more checkout lanes to accommodate wheelchairs. (Disabled customers may exercise head-of-line privileges at these registers or request assistance from our staff in doing so.)
  • Ensuring that disabled customers who rely on service animals trained to assist them will be permitted to bring them into the commissary while shopping.
  • Explaining where disabled customers may obtain a letter of authorization at the installation, upon request. (A disabled customer may obtain a letter of authorization designating a person to accompany and assist the customer, or to shop on his or her behalf.)

Share Your Experience!

I hope this post clarifies the difference between these two early shopping options so you know what to expect if you visit a commissary before normal operating hours.

Have you ever shopped early at Your Commissary, either as an early bird shopper or a customer with a disability? If so, what was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

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