Military and dependents enjoy deep discounts, but should friends and family too?
ANCHORAGE - While retailers rush to get as many customers in their stores, one local store is more concerned about keeping some shoppers out.
The deals there rival those of Black Friday: Beats by Dre Tour In-Ear Headphones that are normally $150 were on sale for just $129. A $348 Michael Kors Grayson handbag is priced at nearly $100 less. And high-end makeup, toys and clothing are listed between 20 percent and 30 percent cheaper than local retailers.
This isn’t a last-minute blowout sale. It’s just another day at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Exchange.
“It’s our mission to provide quality goods and services at uniformly low prices and to generate earnings for the morale, welfare and recreation programs for the Army and the Air Force,” said JBER Exchange general manager Phil Tinsley.
The Exchange’s mission is what keeps prices low for military members and dependents, but they aren’t the only ones cashing in on the steals.
Military card holders are permitted to bring civillians on base, but those civillians are not allowed to purchase anything. There are, however, ways around that rule, such as a military personnel purchasing items for others who don’t have access.
This kind of behavior is wrong, said retired Air Force member Kevin McClure.
“I disagree with it,” McClure said. “It shouldn’t be done. I won’t bring my friends on to do that. I won’t allow it.”
Hopping on base and taking advantage of the great prices is a privilege that should be reserved for those who have earned it, McClure said.
“They’ve got to be in the service to get that privilege and I think it should stay that way,” he said.
Military spouse Lynn Caras doesn’t see the harm in allowing friends of authorized shoppers to share in the savings.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” Caras said. “If there’s someone coming in that’s taking advantage of it and they’re shopping every day or whatever, that would be different.”
While most of the policing is left up to the card holders themselves, there are penalties if authorized shoppers are found abusing their priviledge.
“They could modify their ID card and Exchange could be blocked out, and commissary could be blocked out and they wouldn’t have those privileges,” Tinsley warned. “So, there are penalties.”