MCCLELLAN PARK, Calif. —
Another setback is impacting Northern California veterans and active duty service members in the former McClellan Air Force Base area as the Army and Air Force Exchange is set to close next week.
Even though the McClellan Air Force Base shut down in 2001, the BX and PX exchange remained open for the military community. The absence of a military mission combined with a decrease in demand are the reasons the exchange is closing for good.
"We moved to the Sacramento area because there were so many nice air force bases we could use in our retirement," said Navy military spouse Marty Hills. Now, she and her veteran husband have to look for other options.
The exchange offers deep discounts and tax-free household items, goods, clothing, electronics and furniture. It also has restaurants and a barbershop.
"It was kind of payback for the many, many months when our spouses were gone and serving overseas," said Hills. "It made us feel blessed by the community and appreciated. Now it's dollar and sense."
The sign hanging outside the building gives the reason for the closure:
"The absence of a military mission combined with a decrease in demand." It encourages shoppers to buy items from the online exchange.
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"I wish they'd keep it open because we use it," said Navy veteran Ernest Granger, 80.
Granger and his U.S. Marine veteran neighbor, Murray Wankel, 86, drive from their retirement community in Folsom for a day of shopping and errands.
"It's close to us. We like the drive and the prices are a little bit better than out here in the civilian world," said Wankel.
Dawn Leytem helps her Air Force veteran father, 85, with errands by driving him to the BX several times a month.
"This is one of the things people put their time in for," said Donald Leytem, "They put in 20 years...this is one of the things they're planning on."
Army veteran Joe Margolies visits the PX from Stockton. He makes a day of it, with VA appointments, lunch and shopping.
"I'm a military retiree so I'm definitely on a fixed income," said Margolies. "This makes it even more important especially for people counting pennies and couponing."
KCRA 3 reached out to the main exchange for comment and they said in part:
"The Exchange has faithfully served American service members and their families for 127 years, since 1895, and operates more than 4,330 facilities with operations in more than 30 countries, 50 states and four U.S. territories. No matter where troops go, the Exchange goes with them. The Exchange serves troops in Southwest Asia, Africa, Europe and the Pacific," they said. "We look forward to continuing serving military members in Northern California at Beale AFB and Travis AFB and at www.ShopMyExchange.com."
The commissary is staying open. It operates under different government appropriations.
The exchange will close on Nov. 26.