Tuesday, June 21, 2016

An Iwakuni Event of Epic Proportions.... The New Commissary Opens

In all the years of my life prior to moving to Iwakuni, stores and businesses opened all around me. The few that I actually noticed as new, I'm sure had grand openings, but I never attended. I had other things to do... like work. Or school. Or parent teacher conferences. Or... something.

But then I moved to Iwakuni.

And we have been besieged by construction for the past 4 years I have been here. And when I say besieged, I mean besieged. There are very few areas of the base that remain untouched and if you lived here two or more years ago, you probably don't recognize the place.

You certainly wouldn't recognize the new commissary, which had its grand opening today. Clearly a lot of work and effort went into this. Kudos to everyone involved.

For those of you who have forgotten what the old commissary looked like, or you never saw it to begin with, here is a taste:

If you would like further details I invite you to visit this blog post from 2013 and this one from 2014. You can also take a look at the sketches and timeline that led up to this day in this post here

When food wasn't missing from the shelves, especially fresh foods, it was expensive. I consistently paid $5 for two bell peppers. $14 for a small spaghetti squash. $5 for a small plastic box of blueberries. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts had gone the way of the dodo. I saw Granny Smith apples twice in my four-year tenure here. Fresh jalepenos only showed up in the summer months.

But today was an entirely different story. Well, except for the Granny Smith apples. Still don't have those.

The commissary now has floral items.

The Kintai Bridge over bottled water

Cases of soda

The produce section

Cupcakes for the grand opening. As any good military commissary should have, kids were running amuck around the store. While I stood there and took this picture at around 10 a.m., one child bragged to his friend about how he was on his third cupcake. He was later being yelled at by his mom in the checkout line because he wouldn't stop trying to swing on the cart, the line dividers, the ceiling...

In a land where watermelons are $20 at Costco, I grabbed the $5 watermelon. Actually, my 14-year-old, Will, did. He was not taking no for an answer on that.

Bell peppers were 5 for $5. I'm sure it is too much to hope that that price will be permanent.

There were celebratory balloons... (followed by startling celebratory balloon popping throughout my visit)

And there was a chocolate fountain... as well as free packages English muffins (not pictured).

The dairy aisle was a joy to behold. My friend Shannon said this is the third time she has seen ricotta cheese at the commissary in the 3 years she has been here. And never in such quantity. And look at all that cottage cheese! Hopefully future residents will never have to know the terrible struggles of the residents before them when a cottage cheese famine hit!

This aisle was the most clogged... the dairy/cheese aisle. People were just stopped with their carts and staring into the cases. I think they were in awe of the selection and quantity of cheeses. If you haven't ever lived here, you don't know what a lack of cheese can do to you. It's like recovering from a tampon shortage on Orange is the New Black. Seriously.

There is now a sushi bar! However, we still live in Japan, so there are lots of sushi choices off base, as well. I would have been more excited about a Dairy Queen bar or a tequila bar. Yeah.... definitely the tequila bar. Good tequila is not plentiful in this country.
The deli and bakery were HUGE in comparison to the postage-stamp-sized deli we had before. And the bakery was kind of scattered all over the store...

Look at all of the CoffeeMate choices... a year ago people were bargaining on the Facebook classifieds for these. I think one woman even traded her first born.

Monster torii gate

Some things never change though... 7 different checkout stations... only 3 or 4 were open all day. But there were lots of dudes standing around in suits, chatting. 
Exhibit A  ;)

Solar power! Although my geeky brother pointed out that they were showing their power savings on a power-guzzling monitor. He said it was ironic. I told him to straighten his pocket protector.

Free food! I did not partake, though.
So there was some collateral that the commissary people handed out prior to the grand opening, and at the door as we walked in this morning. I did not read any of it, but I photographed it and place it here for your review.

With a simple glance, I noticed that we have two aisles of pizza! We only had a single case before... the kids are thrilled! They'll get to enjoy the variety for about another month before we leave Iwakuni.

In other news, the new post office opened up on base in May. It's very nice... large, clean, but clearly designed by men.

See the grass in front of the building? See the door on the front of the building? See the back end of the car in front of me? See the sign in front of the grass? You are not allowed to walk on the grass. So, when you are carrying a large package to and from your car, you have to walk completely around the grassy area to get to/from your car/the front door. Why wasn't a straight path to the parking lot created? Hello, people... an obstacle course to the front door is not helpful. If you have to have a special sign telling people to stay off the grass at a public building, you need to rethink your grass.

The other big differences: Boxes now have windows to see if there is mail... this is good because many people have struggled bringing back their high school locker skills with the combo locks now on the boxes. If you don't have mail, it certainly is not worth the struggle. And since my box is even with my knees, I feel like a contortionist trying to look through the window. But, there are also more parcel lockers, so that means more opportunity to pick up packages when the post office window isn't open. Yay!

We just got word that the new Sakura Theater, er, command assembly hall, will have its grand opening on July 1, followed by a second celebration July 4. Which is good news since there can't be any 4th of July fireworks or concerts. I'll be there, throwing some popcorn and Mike and Ikes into the air, saying "oooo," "ahhhhh."

No comments: