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Distribution problems affect Fort Hood commissary

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Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 12:00 pm | Updated: 5:04 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD – The closing of a food distribution company that supplied groceries to the Clear Creek Commissary has created empty shelves at the on-post grocery with some national brands unavailable.

The store's director, Donna L. Baird, said Tuesday that the commissary is working to reestablish the supply chain to provide goods for shoppers by early next week.

She emphasized that the commissary remains open for business.

Sterling Downey Sales Co., who supplied military commissaries with national-brand products, closed on Jan. 1, according to a news release from the Defense Commissary Agency.

Commissaries in Texas and New Mexico have been affected, and the Clear Creek location is experiencing shortages of Del Monte, whole chickens, Minute Maid juices and paper products, Baird said.

"It looks a lot worse than it is," she said.

The produce, meat and deli departments were not affected. Neither were items that are delivered daily, such as bread, Nabisco, Pepsi and Coke products. The daily delivery items account for half of the products at the store, she said.

The shortage has caused noticeable empty space on the store's shelves, but Baird said officials are aware of the problem and are addressing it.

She said she expects deliveries to start arriving at the beginning of the week. In some cases, the store is cutting out distributiors and ordering directly from the companies.

Baird learned of the Sterling Downey closing in early January when her store was set to receive 7,000 cases of merchandise. Instead, it received 2,400. The shortage has decreased sales by 9 percent, she said, and part of that is because shoppers think the store is closed because of the shortage.

The store does an item count twice a day, and as of Tuesday had 18,097 items. It usually has 18,630 items, Baird said.

Commissaries learned how to deal with losing a major distributor about five years ago when a company that supplied commissaries in the Pacific region went bankrupt, Baird said. Officials learned from that situation, and in this situation were able to recuperate quickly and find alternate distributors.

GSC Enterprises Inc. purchased what was left of Sterling Downey and is working with national manufacturers to get products back to the commissaries, according to information from the Defense Commissary Agency.

Fort Hood has two commissaries: Clear Creek and Warrior Way. The Clear Creek facility is older, at 35 years, but does more business because of its location on post, Baird said. The store received about 2,500 customers a day, according to customer counts at the registers, Baird said.

Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at astair@kdhnews.com or call (254) 501-7547

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