FORT BRAGG — Staff Sgt. Jamison Jackson walked into the Post Exchange after a few weeks away at Advanced Leaders’ Course and was shocked at several new outlets he found inside.
“Since when does AAFES operate those shady ‘We Buy Gold!’ places?” Jackson said, still confused. “I thought AAFES was supposed to promote, like, a wholesome lifestyle or something. But now there’s the gold-buying place, and — just look at that! Is that a tattoo parlor next to the food court? It is! Look, that chick's getting a Mighty Mouse tattooed right above her ... oh my.”
Staff Sgt Jackson’s consternation is the result of a new policy from Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) to abandon its practice of avoiding stores of a questionable moral nature.
“It’s only logical,” said Maj. Gen. Marsha Blevins. “What with the bad economy and defense department budget cuts, we could no longer afford to restrict ourselves to certain franchises within exchange facilities. So some servicemembers and their families will be seeing a few new stores at their exchanges. Many of these customers will be happy to be able to shop for these items and services right on their installations.”
As with all progress, there are some service members who do not appreciate the new commercial opportunities.
“I mean, look, I understand that we’re not exactly plaster saints,” said Capt. Jane Long, chaplain for 3-320th Field Artillery Battalion at Ft. Campbell. “But come on. I don't know if having an ‘Extreme Ink’ or a ‘Flashy Styles Body Bling’ is good with our kids walking past them going into the PX."
“I just think that pawn shops equal squalor,” said Staff Sgt. Bill Donahue as he frowned at ‘All American Pawn ‘n’ Guns’ inside the Base Exchange on Eglin Air Force Base. “And do we really need a ‘Rent-a-Rims’ when we can just go into Niceville and find a rim shop right there?”
Despite the misgivings of some, many troops and families agree with Major Gen Blevins, and are happy to take advantage of the new franchises at their exchanges.
“Normally I would have to drive all the way to Syracuse to get a good pair of fake nails, hair extensions, or a matching neon-green pumps-belt-broach-necklace-hatpin set, nomsayin?” said Tawana Jones, wife of a 10th Sustainment Brigade NCO as she entered the Fort Drum PX. “But now I can just come to the PX and there is ‘Accessorize Yo Lyfe!’ right next to the Popeye’s. That saves me like a hour drive. I was gonna bring my neighbor Princess? But she a bitch-ass ho who need to get some respect for herself.”
Sources confirmed that Mrs. Jones later snapped her fingers thrice and went inside to shop.
At press time, the new outlets had seen remarakble financial success, and similar proposals were being considered for Navy and Marine Corps Exchanges.