Closing Time for the 145th Airlift Wing Shoppette
By by Senior Airman Thomas Arndt, 145th Airlift Wing
/ Published December 04, 2020
Charlotte, N.C. – --
The North Carolina Air National Guard Base Shoppette we have all grown to love and rely on is set to close December 11th, 2020. Jennifer Britton, the Shoppette Store Manager since 2006, with her dedication and friendly nature, has evolved the store into a staple of the North Carolina Air Guardsmen home.
“When we first opened the Shoppette, the store only had one cooler with soft drinks and a few snack items,” noted Britton. Britton, true to form, stops mid-interview to help a customer who exclaims his fondness for the her and the Shoppette. Over the last 14 years, Britton has worked with Army and Air Force Exchange Service to expand the Shoppettes selection into categories such as military clothing, souvenirs, hot food items, and spirited beverages.
“Fort Jackson is the closest base to Charlotte and its over 90 miles away,” Britton remarked. Prior to the Shoppette opening in 2006, members of the 145th AirLift Wing had no close alternative to buy essential clothing items such as ribbon racks, stripes, hats, shirts, and tactical boots. While military members can buy items on AAFES.com, the Shoppette is a convenient way to satisfy customers immediate clothing needs without waiting extra days for shipping.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shoppette served more than 3,000 guardsmen, retirees, and contractors per month while maintaining more than $360,000 in annual sales. However, since the re-opening of the Shoppette in October, the pandemic has caused sales to drop by half which is largely contributing to the store’s closure. Britton stated that demand in the area still remains high as the Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s online network in the 40-mile perimeter around Charlotte is on track to hit two million dollars in sales this year.
Britton and her husband, Senior Master Sgt Jamey Britton from the 145th Communications Squadron, will both retire this month. Britton remarked she will miss being a part of the community and the family-like nature of working on base. While they are saddened to leave, Mr. and Mrs. Britton are excited to start the next chapter of their life. As for the Shoppette, plans are still in the making to see if it will return and at what capacity the store will operate moving forward.
“Being here and being on this base, getting to know everyone, we all throw around the phrase ‘family,’ and that’s what it is, and I want to make sure that the Airmen’s needs are met.”