Joint Base Charleston


Smart savings starts at your local Commissary

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer Hudson | Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs | March 09, 2011

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- We hear it all the time, 'take advantage of those military benefits', and for the most part many of us do. We use Tricare for medical coverage, Navy College and Community College of the Air Force for education and financial investments through the Thrift Savings Plan to help with retirements. However many military personnel and their families fail to take full advantage of one the smartest and tastiest savings plans we have; the local commissary.

Established in 1991, the Defense Commissary Agency is responsible for all commissaries regardless of military service. Each commissary serves active duty, Retirees, National Guard and Reserve members and their families.

Here on Joint Base Charleston, two commissaries are conveniently available, one at Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station and the other at JB CHS - Air Base. The commissaries are there to help assist military families in saving time and money on name brand items, allowing them to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year on groceries alone.

"Saving money is like finding money. It is unexpected cash in your pocket that can build up your savings so that you may invest in your future," said JBS CHS - WS Store Director Iveena Henderson. "Trading your grocery store for the local commissary could potentially save your military family hundreds of dollars a month!"

On average, shopping at the commissary can save a shopper $2 or more on most name brand items according to  This website shows that during the course of a year, a family of four could save approximately $4,400 by shopping at the commissary, saving a family, on average, 30 percent or more on their monthly food budget.

Family Size  Household  Yearly Food  Yearly Nonfood  Total Yearly 
                         Members     Savings          Savings              Savings
Single                     1            $1,158.08        $372.18             $1,530.26
Married                   2            $1,843.17        $592.36             $2,435.53

"The commissary is a smart way to go for anyone looking to save money on name brand items,"  said Retired Master Chief Don Petersen. "The commissary has a great selection, always a great line of fresh produce and you really can't beat the prices. Even though I'm retired, I shop here all the time and can definitely say that the prices here definitely stretch my retirement check."

"I come from a long line of military members; in fact, my daughter is currently in the Air Force, so I see all the benefits that are offered to service members and their families," said Mrs. Henderson. "Those that utilize the commissary know about the savings. We encourage everyone to come to the commissary at least once and see for themselves how much they can save."

While there is a 5 percent surcharge on commissary items, it is considerably cheaper than the 7 percent sales tax charged in town.

"Many people are under the impression that the surcharge is a tax given back to the states, when in fact, the surcharge goes toward construction and renovations of commissaries," said Mrs. Henderson. "All items at the commissary are sold at cost so there is no profit generated by the store."

The commissary also caters to the special food interests of many Airmen and Sailors and their families and maintains a wide selection of ethnic foods including Asian, Mexican and German selections.

"The commissary is more than what is in your wallet," said Mrs. Henderson. "We care about our customers and their health and we try to accommodate our patrons as best we can."


Staying Connected