You do what the Romans do. Self-check-out: check. Store brands: check. Online ordering with curbside pickup: check. Rewards card: check. Free two-day shipping: well, no we don’t do that. But, in terms of a great grocery store, we do it all. However, it’s not enough to be doing the same thing. That’s why we are doing more than the other guys. After all, we have to report to Congress and the American people on how well we operate. No other grocery store has to do that.
July 1 marked the 152nd anniversary of the commissary benefit. That puts us almost a century ahead in the grocery business. Change over that hundred years was slow. We sold groceries at cost and we did it well. However, the second decade brought rapid change to the grocery business and a large influx of grocers. Now it is not uncommon to see two or three grocery stores on the same street corner in competition with each other. Moreover, even your pharmacy sells groceries. These and other changes brought cutthroat business practices to the grocery world with everyone competing for their slice. We can continue to do what we did a hundred years ago or we can compete in our own way.
Grocery competition today is centered on niche markets. Whether it’s low-price, low selection, organic, local offerings or a complete shopping experience with wine tasting and eating, grocery stores are pulling into their own grocery world niche. We are not. The commissary had a niche market since we were formed. Our niche is you. You are an exclusive club, like BJ’s only we don’t charge you a membership fee. You have a brothership that only 1% of Americans can claim. In 152 years our customer and our niche has not changed. For 152 years we have enhanced the quality of life and readiness for military, veterans and their families.
Our niche will continue to be you. Our focus will always be to improve your quality of life while saving you money. We will deliver a 21st Century Commissary Benefit and deliver a premier customer experience in every store by providing a relevant and vital benefit. That’s why we aren’t in Rome. Let the other guys find their path. Let them squabble over themselves and fight for every new customer. We found our path 152 years ago and it hasn’t changed. You’ve already been accepted into this club and it has premier benefits. The benefits that only a commissary shopper can get.