Story and photo by Devin Fisher
Construction is underway to double the size of the current Fort Carson Exchange paving the way for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to provide its customers with one-stop shopping.
With a scheduled completion of October 2011, the expansion project will allow AAFES to collocate its furniture and sporting goods departments – currently located in the mini mall – in the main store in addition to creating a PowerZone audio and video section and a gun shop, Amanda Kruse, Fort Carson Exchange store manager, said Aug. 12.
“It’s exciting for us because we (will) have what the customers are looking for all under one roof,” she said. “We won’t have to send them over to the mini mall; we won’t have to send them somewhere else. It’s all going to be here.”
Kruse said when the store is completed it will feature more than 100,000 square feet of floor space, nearly twice the 53,000 square feet it currently offers, allowing for additional stock assortment.
“We’re going to have wider aisles and all new fixtures … a total upgrade for this store,” Kruse said.
“It will be bright, it will be clean, and it will be fun to shop.”
She doesn’t anticipate the store will have to close its doors during the construction that allows it to meet the demands of a growing population.
“We’re doing the work in phases with the least amount of disruption to customers that we possibly can,” Kruse said.
To accommodate the store’s expansion, south and west of the existing facility, the outdoor living department was temporarily moved into the parking lot.
Kruse said in addition to bringing in the furniture and sporting goods, the most visible changes will have to do with the new PowerZone and gun shop, and expanded soft lines and outdoor living departments.
The new PowerZone will be completely interactive, as customers can try out cameras, laptops and video game systems that will all be powered up. Similar to the PowerZone at Peterson Air Force Base, the department will also feature a TV wall for customers to compare items. It will also include a mobile store where customers can purchase phones and calling plans from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.
The new soft lines area will feature a larger children’s department and a beauty bar concept shop that will carry some upscale brands, Kruse said.
The exchange food court will also receive a facelift as part of the project.
Current plans call for the addition of a Starbucks, Subway replacing Robin Hood Sandwich Shoppe, and Taco John’s being replaced by a similar restaurant to be announced at a later date, she said. The overall food court will not be closed during the renovation, but Kruse, said the restaurants may have some down time during the process. All current AAFES concession shops are expected to remain and GameStop will be moved from the mini mall to the new facility.