Exchange micro markets deliver contactless convenience

A Winn Army Community Hospital employee visits the new AAFES micro market, Jan. 27 on Fort Stewart. The market offers an unmanned, automated convenience store option for Soldiers, civilian employees and hospital patrons at any time. Photo by Sylvia Carpenter

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A Winn Army Community Hospital employee visits the new AAFES micro market, Jan. 27 on Fort Stewart. The market offers an unmanned, automated convenience store option for Soldiers, civilian employees and hospital patrons at any time. Photo by Sylvia Carpenter

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is making it safe and easy for warfighters to stock up on essentials at more than 100 self-serve micro markets – contactless convenience stores offering food, drinks and more – at 50 Army and Air Force installations worldwide.

Strategically positioned to serve Soldiers and Airmen working odd hours or in out-of-the-way locations, the unmanned, automated convenience stores offer better-for-you options that support a BE FIT lifestyle, including fresh fruit, salads and more. Some locations also offer sundries such as over-the-counter medicines and personal hygiene items.

Transactions are 100% contactless, helping warfighters maintain physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s not always easy for Soldiers and Airmen to get to the Exchange and back during breaks—this format brings the Exchange to them in a safe, sanitized and secure setting,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Osby, Exchange senior enlisted adviser. “With the emergence of COVID-19, micro markets have become even more important, allowing busy warfighters to pick up what they need in a zero-contact environment.”

The Exchange first introduced micro markets in 2014. They’ve since become one of the fastest-growing formats offered by the Exchange, with the number of active locations more than doubling in the past 18 months.

More than 10 micro markets have already opened in 2021 at locations including Fort Carson, Fort Bragg and Joint Base Lewis-McChord. More than 30 new Exchange micro markets are expected to open in 2021. Some micro markets, including five at Fort Hood, Texas, serve warfighters under quarantine for two weeks after returning from overseas.

“The Exchange is truly honored to do its part to serve and support our heroes, especially during these challenging times,” said Fort Hood Exchange General Manager Samantha Davis. “Micro markets have become a significant force multiplier to the Exchange’s ongoing efforts to protect America’s warfighters.”

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