BY KRISTINE M. STURKIE PUBLIC AFFAIRS SPECIALIST NAVY EXCHANGE SERVICE COMMAND
The Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) is always looking for new ways to improve the products and services it offers to its customers. When the concept of Micro Markets was introduced in the vending industry, NEXCOM knew this would be a great option for its Navy customers.
“NEX Micro Markets are designed to be placed in Navy facilities where there are a large number of people but not a lot of food options available, or time is limited,” said Mary Margaret Caragan, NEXCOM’s program manager services. “They provide a broader assortment of quick, fresh, healthy food options for breakfast and lunch - items that are not typically found in a vending machine.”
The first NEX Micro Market, which opened in February 2015, is at the Southeast Regional Maintenance Center Command at Naval Station Mayport, Florida. The self-service operation is open 24 hours per day, seven days a week and takes both cash and credit card payments.
“We are getting a lot of very positive feedback from our customers and the command,” said Caragan. “We were able to expand on the products we offer our customers as compared to a normal vending operation to give them more choices and better food options. In addition, because the operation is completely self-service, customers have access to food and beverages whenever they want to purchase it.”
The NEX Micro Market sells a variety of food including heat-and-serve meals, sandwiches, pastries, muffins, coffee and cappuccino. In addition, it sells many healthy-choice food items such as salads, fruit and snack options.
Due to the volume of sales averaging $1,300 per day, NEX Mayport vending associates are restocking items up to twice a day. NEXCOM is projecting sales to be about $250,000 for the year, twice what was originally anticipated.
NEXCOM is looking to expand this pilot concept at other Navy facilities in the continental United States. NEXCOM is working with Navy commands to determine stable and controlled environments with the appropriate number of occupants to incorporate a NEX Micro Market such as work spaces, hangars and training facilities. Currently, there are four locations at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, under development.