USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) celebrated another historic milestone in becoming Ready for Sea.
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The Theodore Roosevelt Supply Department celebrates the grand opening of the Rough Rider Trading Post. From Left to Right: Capt. Daniel Grieco, Commanding Officer; SHCS(SW/AW) Sharon Franck, S-3 LCPO; Lt. Chea Hale-Hernandez, Sales Officer; Cmdr. Mark Runstrom, Supply Officer; NEXCOM Chief Executive Officer Robert Bianchi.
After four long years in the Newport News Shipyard, Theodore Roosevelt’s
main Ship’s Store was revealed to an enthusiastic crew in early January.
Navy Exchange Command (NEXCOM) Chief Executive Officer, retired Supply Corps Rear Adm. Robert Bianchi, led the historic ribbon cutting ceremony along with Theodore Roosevelt’s
Commanding Officer, Capt. Daniel Grieco.
Bianchi told the crew this was the second carrier to have his NEXCOM team ‘brand’ on the store with the trademark Navy Exchange blue borders. USS Harry S. Truman
(CVN 75) was the first to receive branding prior to beginning their deployment last year. “Having the NEXCOM branding team come onboard is a big deal,” Bianchi told the crew. “We also teach the Ship’s Servicemen how to merchandise and give them in-rate training to make the store better for the crew while learning valuable skill sets.”
Opening the Ship’s Store wasn’t without its obstacles. The existing store was completely gutted out during Theodore Roosevelt’s
Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) period, which commenced in late 2009. Work on the store was supposed to start in late 2012, but was delayed due to necessary tests related to the ship’s propulsion plant. Contractor work finally resumed in early April 2013. The store refurbishment wrapped up in early November, and the ship celebrated the occasion with a soft opening, and offering a limited number of products to build anticipation for the NEXCOM grand opening one month later.
The final step before the grand opening was selecting a creative name that would welcome patrons while staying true to the ship’s presidential heritage. Several options were discussed, but ultimately the team decided on naming the store the “Rough Rider Trading Post.”
“The name is very important to the store because it gives it the country ‘outdoorsy’ theme that made Theodore Roosevelt so famous,” explained S-3 Division Leading Chief Petty Officer SHCS(SW/AW) Sharon Franck.
The ship’s underway schedule, which included sea trials and carrier qualifications, further delayed NEXCOM’s branding effort until mid-December. The store was shut down over the holiday leave period to allow NEXCOM employees to add flyers, advertisements, and assist with product placement. Ship’s Servicemen (SH) were taught stocking and merchandising techniques that will improve sales.
“Having NEXCOM come in to brand this store has made the store so much better,” said retail operator SH3 Shaelynn Masters. “They taught us to move the hanging pegs closer so we can make the store appear bigger to the customer’s eye.” The store also features a life-size poster of President Roosevelt and his famous quote, “Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far.”
The Rough Rider Trading Post now boasts more than 1,000 different products, including energy drinks, beef jerky, personal electronics and custom TR emblematics. It also has everything a Sailor would need if they forgot something at home while out to sea.
“The ability to carry everyday items that Sailors may need definitely increases morale onboard the ship,” SHCS(SW/AW) Franck said.
All profits generated by the Rough Rider Trading Post support the Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) fund. “The sales we make in the ship’s store definitely made our Christmas party and MWR functions possible,” said SH3 Masters.
So far, the reviews to the ship’s store have been overwhelmingly positive.
“Customers have commented how much it looks like a real store and how excited they are to have such a convenience on the ship,” explained retail operator SH3 Shandra McGuire.
The grand opening of the Rough Rider Trading Post is the latest success for TR’s Supply Department. Earlier in 2013, the ship opened “The Big Sip” coffee shop with resounding success. Theodore Roosevelt
is currently conducting carrier workups in preparation for her first deployment after a four-year overhaul.
By LT Mike Di Prospero, SC, USN