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By Sgt. 1st. Class Benjamin Crane,
Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office
Guardsmen working on Boone National Guard Center will have to look elsewhere for snacks, drinks, uniform pieces, and other essential items commonly found in an Army and Air Force Exchange Service shoppette.
After more than 24 years of service to patrons visiting the headquarters for the Kentucky National Guard, the AAFES Post Exchange will close its doors for good.
According to AAFES general manager, Donald Basil, the shoppette, although valuable to Boone Center employees and visitors seeking quality merchandise, had been running at a financial deficit for the last ten years and could no longer sustain its daily operations.
Originally opened in 1999, the PX’s shoppette brought consumable goods, an assortment of military clothing, patches, accessories and electronics to the National Guard Soldiers, Airmen, retirees and civilians.
With the shoppette going away, “The plan is to replace the store with a micro-market,” said Basil.
The micro-market will be a bank of vending machines where customers can purchase various drinks and snacks.
Initially, the plan was to emplace the micro-market within the same building. But, with the eventual opening of a new Joint Force Headquarters Readiness Center, Kentucky Guard leadership is considering an alternate solution.
A walk to the ‘snack shack’ was a way for those who work on Boone Center to break up the monotony of the workday.
"The shoppette has been around for so long that I think we've taken this resource for granted," said Lt. Col. Steve Martin, director of the Army Aviation Support Facility on Boone Center. "I'll certainly miss coming to get a cold drink and being greeted by Alice after it closes."
This was a sentiment that was echoed by many that stopped by as they made their last purchases.
"I haven't been (working) here long but I've found myself coming here two to three times a day," said Robert Read, an ESS civilian technician who works at Boone Center.
"I'm going to miss the store and Ms. Alice. She was always personable, and we usually would end up just talking sometimes," he added.
As for the annex manager, Alice Wilson, running the store by herself for the past eight years has helped her build a bond and sense of community with the others who worked and drilled at Boone Center.
“It’s been great working for AAFES and the people at Boone Center,” said Wilson. “I’ll miss them but I'm looking forward to retiring from this and finding something new.”