With the cut of a ribbon, Barksdale Air Force Base welcomed the first round of shoppers into the newly renovated Exchange shopping center.
The 134,064 -square-foot features multi-million dollar improvements, its first significant remodel since 2004, bringing key merchandise, concessions and restaurants under one roof. Chief Master Sgt. Sean Applegate, Exchange Senior Enlisted Advisor, said the renovation totaled almost $6.6 million. Improvements include a new roof and HVAC system, polished floors, more shopping sections and an open store layout.
Most importantly, Applegate said the renovations will improve the overall customer experience.
“To give this to our community is huge,” Applegate said. “We listened to our customers. They asked for the types of products we brought in. There’s a great selection inside our store.”
Col. Brandon Parker, 2nd Bomb Wing vice commander, said the new design carries on the tradition of the past.
“It’s a special renovation, but it’s not just prettier. There’s substance there — more merchandise, more products, more services for our community. We know how valuable this partnership is,” Parker said. “In the military, we know what it means to serve. We know what it means sacrifice. This extra boost to quality of life for our families is what we wanted to do.”
The center is more than just a place to shop and eat though. Two-thirds of every dollar spent at the Exchange goes back to fund quality of life programs at Barksdale. Tom Shull, Army & Air Force Exchange Service Director/CEO, said this project is a great example of how partnerships can make a great place even better.
“This is a wonderful example of how it should work, how it can work and how it has worked for 120 years,” Shull said. “We always communicate to those we serve how much we want to be a partner in family readiness. We always want to do our part by making sure we take care of family members. We serve the best customers in the world.”
Prior to the ribbon-cutting, the Exchange honored retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. James Jones, a Vietnam War veteran and Shreveport resident who won a grand prize in the MILITARY STAR Your Holiday Bill Is On Us sweepstakes, in which his account balance was paid in full and he received additional store credit.