I have been going to Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores for more than half of my life.
I’ve been to post exchanges and base exchanges, or BXs, as they’re called on Air Force bases, in California, Mississippi, Kentucky, England, Kuwait, Japan, Germany and, eventually, Fort Hood.
At Goodfellow Air Force Base in West Texas, I’d walk over to the BX every Sunday after church, look around the store and play video games at the attached arcade area until my mom was done talking with her church friends, which always lasted a while.
At Fort Hood in the 1990s, I’d visit the Clear Creek Main Exchange every once in a while, but more often I’d visit the shoppette on Batallion Avenue not far from 1st Cavalry Division headquarters. It was within walking distance from my barracks, and I could pick up anything from shoe polish to six-packs.
When I got out of the Army in 1996, looking into my rear view mirror at Fort Hood for what I thought would be the final time, I figured my days of shopping at PXs and BXs were numbered.
My dad had retired from the Air Force by that time and I had no real connections to getting into a PX.
However, a new proposal being considered by the military would allow about 20 million veterans like myself to shop at the PX online. It’s being pushed by AAFES and would likely greatly increase sales for the exchange. If approved by the military, the new policy would kick in on Veterans Day.
I don’t really miss the PX, but I never had a bad experience there, either. In the civilian world, there are so many other outlets that fill the void: Wal-Mart, Target, malls, etc., etc.
In the military world, exchanges sometimes can be the only option for shopping, depending on the duty station.
Overseas or stateside, it was nice to get away from the job a little bit and go buy some candy, a magazine or maybe even a TV at a nearby exchange.
With this new proposed benefit of online shopping I wondered if the PX can really be competitive with the other online shopping giants out there like Amazon or Wal-Mart.
As a test, I did my own price comparison online, looking at a few products I would likely buy.
I’ll have the results of that price comparison in my column next week.
Jacob Brooks, a former Army tanker, is the city editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. Contact him at email@example.com or (254) 501-7468.