DAHLGREN, Va. (Feb. 8, 2024) – When Secretary of the Navy Carlos del Toro visited Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren on Feb. 2 to see some of the Navy’s most advanced training and technological programs, a small store inside of the Surface Combat Systems Training Command (SCSTC) AEGIS Training and Readiness Center (ATRC) made a big impression.
Established in 2019, the Micro Market serves the 500 students that are onboard daily during three different training shifts and a blended workforce consisting of over 400 service members and civilians. Prior to it, traditional support services had challenges supporting SCSTC ATRC students and staff contending with training shifts and high ops tempo.
Enter the Micro Market, a hybrid of vending and convenience stores. The Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) Micro Market is a self-service, self-checkout store that offers a broad array of fresh food, healthy and traditional snacks, and beverage products at a convenient location for ease of access and quick purchases. They deliver an improved customer experience compared to traditional vending machines, offering an expanded assortment variety, while retaining the operational efficiencies of automated retailing.
The NEX Micro Market at ATRC quickly became popular beyond all expectations. The operation may be the smallest, but it is the highest in gross sales by square footage out of NEXCOM’s nearly 100 Micro Markets, and settling in among the top quartile.
Sales at the SCSTC ATRC NEX Micro Market in 2024 topped $500,000 with beverages being the top sellers, and coffee in the number one spot.
“Having the Micro Market here in the building at ATRC provides both convenience and quality of life for the staff and students,” said Cmdr. Jonathan Schermerhorn, SCSTC ATRC commanding officer. “They don’t necessarily have to run out and buy lunch or a cup of (much needed) coffee when it is literally right down the hall provided for them. In addition, it is a great morale booster.”
It isn’t just Navy leaders who see the value. “The quality and variety of refreshments and food items provided make our ability to perform that much easier,” said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Zackary Countryman. “The staff in charge of our Micro Market truly is a blessing to the command.”
“The convenience provided by having the drinks and food so easily accessible cannot be overstated,” added Fire Controlman 3rd Class Manuel Torres. “It makes getting through the long work and school days much easier.”
NEXCOM currently operates 78 shore-based Micro Markets, as well as two ‘Micro Market@Sea’ locations, onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and USS San Antonio (LPD 17). NEXCOM plans to open 21 additional locations around the globe in 2024 to support the Navy and its Sailors.
“From shore to sea, NEXCOM is charged with strengthening Navy quality of life services for our warfighters and military families,” said Jesse Webb, NEX Dahlgren exchange manager. “NEX Micro Markets operate in locations where foods options are limited and convenience is critical to mission readiness. The NEX Micro Market at SCSTC ATRC is a great example of NEXCOM’s innovative approach to serve our Navy communities, and particularly support the folks here at Dahlgren by ensuring they have access to food and beverages 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Micro market products are merchandised and fully accessible to customers within a contained, monitored retail environment. Self-checkout and payment settlement is managed through a PCI-compliant, automated kiosk payment system.
“It’s not easy these days to deliver the quality and quantity of services our Sailors deserve with so many pressing budget needs,” said Capt. David Wilson, commanding officer of Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) and SCSTC ATRC’s host command. “NEXCOM’s Micro Markets are a great outside-the-box way to provide outstanding services at the deckplates where they’re needed most. It’s also notable that these stores essentially operate on the honor system… it’s fulfilling to see young Sailors putting Navy Core Values into action.”
“Part of building a culture of warfighting excellence is treating our people with dignity and respect,” said Secretary Del Toro. “Our people provide the foundational strength for this Department and taking care of them is absolutely critical to our mission. Providing services, such as the Micro Market, continue our efforts to improve quality of service for our Sailors, Marines, civilians and their families. They deserve it.”
*Surface Combat Systems Training Command (SCSTC) AEGIS Training and Readiness Center (ATRC) Public Affairs Officer Kimberley Lansdale and NEXCOM Public Affairs contributed to this article.