By LYNSIE DICKERSON
Gold Standard Staff Writer
Community members gathered at The Exchange Friday morning for the grand opening of the newly-renovated facility on Fort Knox. Events were scheduled throughout the day and included speeches, performances by the 113th Army Band, giveaways and more.
“It’s such a pleasure to able to come here today and showcase this newly-remodeled facility,” said Rick Fair, general manager of the Fort Knox Exchange. “This facility will benefit the community, as well as the United States Army, bringing us a first-class operation.”
The grand opening came after months of renovations that began in May.
“The facilities were getting somewhat dated,” Fair said.
The Exchange was built in 1973 and was remodeled in 1991 and 1994, said Col. T.J. Edwards, garrison commander.
During the ceremony, Fair thanked those who played a role in the renovation of The Exhange, which was kept open during the entire renovation process. He also thanked the customers, who “patiently endured shopping at a construction site.”
“We are so excited about this new renovation and this grand reopening,” Edwards said.
Ninety-four thousand square feet were remodeled, and the new layout includes a home section, a style section and a life section to help customers more easily navigate their way around the store, he said.
More name-brand items can now be found at The Exchange as well, Fair said.
While a budget of $5 million was set for the renovation, only $3.5 million was actually spent, Edwards said, adding that the project was completed on time, under budget and to the set standard.
“This did not cost a nickel in tax dollars,” Fair said. “This was done through your contributions every time you go through that register.”
Fair and Edwards emphasized that money spent at The Exchange stays in the local area.
“That money that you’re spending in our (Army & Air Force Exchange Service) comes back to Soldiers, comes back to our morale and welfare and recreation, comes back to this community,” Edwards said. “That’s a wonderful thing, and we encourage you to shop at AAFES for that very reason.”
“I think (the renovated store) is wonderful,” said shopper Ebony Leverett, whose husband serves on active duty. She said the renovation was a big improvement, and that she enjoys the product selection and not having to leave post to shop.
“AAFES is here for you; it’s outfitting your life, your work life, your family life and your active life, that’s their motto,” Edwards said. “I’d like to think that with our renovation here, we will be first class and among the best.”