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Interesting piece in the Times-Dispatch abut the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), which despite its low profile is one of the nation’s biggest grocery chains. “The agency's job is to provide low-cost, high-quality groceries to 12 million military service members and retirees, and their families, around the world,” the paper writes. “Ringing up sales of more than $5.4 billion last year, DeCA's 18,000 employees run 260 grocery stores in the United States and 12 foreign countries. The agency's service is vital to hundreds of thousands of Virginians: About 125,000 service members are stationed in Virginia, and an additional 138,000 retirees live in the state.”

Being able to shop in a commissary is one of the main benefits of being in the military, with shoppers there able to save as much as 30 percent a year. DeCA doesn’t spend any money on advertising, and passes along savings and promotion dollars directly to consumers.
KC's View:
One of the issues facing DeCA that is not addressed in the article is the fact – confirmed to me when I took a tour of some DeCA stores not that long ago – that Wal-Mart actually is eating away at the commissary agency’s sales by building stores within shouting distance of military bases, and then advertising aggressively to military families. The irony is that these families often respond to those ads, despite the fact that the commissaries can be cheaper.