To Shop Onpost or Offpost: 4 Reasons Why I Didn’t Judge Those Who Shopped in The Commissary Yesterday

nojudgementblkwhiteThe morning of October 1st I made my way to my local Food Lion grocery store as I do many early morning week days after I got the kids on the bus. I walked in to one cash register open and maybe 5 people in the whole store. I enjoyed my walk down almost every single aisle and not having to move my cart to the side. I basked in the quietness and smell of newly stocked fresh bread and produce. I enjoyed that there was no crowd.

I could’ve went to the commissary but I’m lazy. I’d rather take the costly way out and go to the store that’s literally a 60 second drive from my house . The inner me who makes no sense knows that I am buying ground turkey that I could probably get for $2 less at the commi or spending a fortune on a pack of Sabrett or Nathan’s hot dogs because down south peeps have no clue that those are the best hotdogs in the world so they cost a lot.

However, while I am nowhere near rich (hell I wish) I am fortunate enough to be able to purchase my groceries however I wish and not on a set schedule. Unfortunately alot of the members of our military community do not have that option and yesterday was no exception.

You may have saw the blog post I put up earlier showing pictures of empty shelves and long checkout lines at the commissary yesterday . You guys really liked that posts because I was amazed at all the comments which were great. I couldn’t help but be alittle put off by the judgemental and snarky tone of those who insisted that people should be able to shop off base and that those who didn’t were stupid and somehow not managing their finances correctly. Geeze people didn’t we have this talk the other day about counting people’s pockets?

Click here to see pictures from around the country of empty commissaries and long checkout lines.

Well being that I am a military spouse blogger and all (inserting joking sarcastic tone here) I felt like I needed to break down why although the logical option would have been to just go to another grocery store yesterday…many didn’t.

Transportation

I know it may be shocking to some of you (rolls eyes) that alot of people have one car. Yeah you see once upon a time some of you were the wife of a Specialist with a family just starting out and two cars wasn’t an option or maybe one was broke. Just maybe said SPC, PVT, or even a SGT said hey honey here’s the car to go get groceries during my lunch break but I need you to be back before I have to go. Maybe they didn’t have enough gas or time to venture beyond the gates. What about the couple who just PCS’ed from overseas and their one and only car hasn’t arrived!

Cost

Sure the cost of shopping at your local Walmart Super Center isn’t so bad but at the end of the day when you are talking items such as meat and produce the Commissary (imo) offers a better deal price wise. Take for instance a place like Hawaii where on the economy a box of cereal can range from $6-$8. Can you imagine having to shop for a family of four when one basic item costs that much? In Hawaii everything is imported which makes the cost higher. Everyone isn’t so lucky to be at a base in close proximity to a plethora of suburban grocery stores with low costs. Oh and please keep in mind everyone’s version of a good price is different based on your family’s financial makeup. While I have whined about about the surcharge the commissary charges in the past, it is still lower than the taxes charged by many grocery stores.

Fear

Ahhh helloooo! We are officially in a government shutdown and while the last government shutdown may have been 17 years ago , the majority of us were kids living at home who knew nothing about that kind of stuff. This is a scary time for many. Sure the military is getting paid but there are lots of Vets with card carrying rights to the Commissary who aren’t and maybe they were using their last few bucks to get food as cheaply as possible until Uncle Sam and his homies up there on Capitol Hill get it together. There is a wife out there who doesn’t know her way around her new home town yet and only knows how to get to the commissary. Her husband may be deployed and it’s the only option she feels she has.

Distance

Someone mentioned earlier that their military installation is an hour away from the closest stores. That right there is enough to not want to have to leave base and shop. People live on base for a reason and usually it’s the cost and the convenience.

I won’t pretend I didn’t shake my head in non admiration of those who braved lines as if they were waiting for the hottest concert tickets in town. Heck yea I would have been at the first grocery store OUTSIDE of base because I had a choice, but choice is the keyword and many didn’t have one.

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6 comments

  1. Britt

    Crystal, I’m really happy to see this follow up post. I was one of the crazy people who decided to brave the lines at the commissary yesterday (and have bruises to show for it!) I live at Schofield Barracks and as you know, it’s ridiculously expensive to shop at one of the few grocery stores they have around here. And to top it off, with the stabbings, muggings and other violent attacks, I try not to wonder off too far without my husband. Especially when I’ve got my 2 year old daughter with me. So for the sake of staying close and saving a SIGNIFCANT mount of money, I braved the commissary. And to be honest, my husband is a PFC and I am a stay at home mom and student. He was obviously working yesterday and what did I have to do? My daily job is to keep my family fed, my house clean and my family taken care of. Part of that is getting groceries as affordable as I can. If I have to put off a few hours of house keeping or toddler chasing to save my family money, I will. It’s not like I had anything better to do.

  2. Emily

    Thank you for this post!!! I didn’t brave the lines yesterday because I knew it would be absolute chaos and I live off post so I have other store options. But for my family, one of my biggest responsibilities is handling ALL our finances and saving every single penny I can. I ususally go onto post twice a month to stock up on some of the cheaper items: like you said meat and produce. Since I also work (off post) I went last week and stocked up as much as I could when I saw that we were definitely persuing the government shutdown as a real option. But I realize for most people, they aren’t as lucky as I am. My husband is a SPC. I know what they make. I couldn’t imagine being one of those families living just off that income. I actually admire those who braved it yesterday. They are braver than I am for sure. If I had been in their place, I would have probably just suffered the loss when it comes to savings.

  3. crystal

    Thank you for this post. We recently moved from Bragg to Fort Polk. Yes I was one of the brave souls to venture out to the commissary in the AM. Specifically for the meat and things I know I could get cheaper. At Bragg we had food lion, harris teeter, target and about 5 or 6 walmarts. Here at Polk we have 1 Walmart and 1 Market Basket. Our options are very limited. With wic vouchers only being used until the 15th, you can imagine every item needed for it is out of stock… including formula. In Louisiana, you have to get all items on the voucher or you cant use the voucher at all. Those with the rude comments must have forgotten things are different in other places of the world than the one they surrounded themselves in.

  4. Deni

    I am glad that you wrote this because you are so right and I am sorry! I was one of the ones who made a comment about it being easier to go to town. I honestly was only thinking of my preference to avoid the crowd. I LIVE IN TOWN. :( I am really sorry if my comment offended anyone. I did not stop to think about how my comment may imply that I thought people were crazy for going there. Everyone does what they have to do and I have been around long enough to know that.

  5. Erica

    I agree with you. What bother’s me is those who want to complain about how crazy it is and so forth. While other places may not have an option. Here at Bragg, for the most part there are other options and there were a whole lot of people here complaining about the line at the commissary (there is a Foodlion almost right outside of gate), complained about us not getting our money even though the president signed saying we were. I get that when we hear we might not be getting paid scares people. It’s a matter of knowing what to do in that situation that shows how strong you are, freaking out and blaming this and that person isn’t going to do it.

  6. Tia

    Thank you for this! I shopped very early at Randolph AFB. There was no line and no chaos thankfully. I am always appalled at how judgmental women can be towards one another. People need to remember that just because some choose to shop at the commissary it doesn’t mean that they are incompetent about how to save money or doing bad financially. For some it is just pure convenience. I personally like having someone load the groceries in the car for me. With two kids under 3 I like having the option of getting every strapped in their seats while someone else loads my stuff in the trunk. We have got to start being more understanding. Even if someone is in a bad place with money or doesn’t understand couponing isn’t that a chance for you to help that fellow wife out? Hopefully the people that were so condescending are never in that position where they don’t have a choice. It might be someone else today but remember that it could be you tomorrow…

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