With a commitment of service over sales, the Clear Creek Exchange is doing its part in making customers feel normal during this period of unrest.
“The main thing that we’re trying to do is keep our associates and our customers calm – that’s the main thing that we have to do because if we start to panic then it just gets very difficult to complete our mission,” Daniel Wise, general manager of Exchange operations at Fort Hood, said.
The Clear Creek Exchange is one of 2,400 facilities around the world run by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service in more than 30 countries.
“Our name ends in service, not shop,” Wise said. “So our folks really show the esprit de corps they have is service.”
One of the ways the local exchange is keeping its customers first is through its social distancing stance. The wait lines at the Clear Creek Exchange and stores have signs on the ground, showing what 6 feet apart looks like in person.
“We were one of the first to adapt (social distancing),” Wise said. “It’s hard to sometimes gauge what is that distance. We have little footprints in all our facilities.”
He said while other local restaurants have had to close down temporarily, they adapted. Inside the food court at the Clear Creek Exchange, tables have been removed to respect the proper social distancing guidelines. He said because of amount of Soldiers training at Fort Hood, the food court is a necessity.
Wise said that AAFES did not wait for guidelines on social distancing, they took the lead and are taking pre-emptive measures that other stores have not started. These measures are meant to keep their customers safe from the virus.
“We’re also sanitizing all our shopping carts,” he said. “We have an area where you can get your cart that is already sanitized and we make sure that you drop off your cart in another area, so we can sanitize it before we put it back into play.”
One of the biggest differences between the Clear Creek Exchange and off-post stores is that they have products people are needing at the moment.
“When you walk into our doors, we’re in business and we look like we’re in business,” Wise said. “Our shelves are actually not bare, so we do have a lot of products in our facilities. It’s just the specific items that are scarce are the cleaning products or the hand sanitizers.”
Wise said AAFES runs on a centralized ordering system, so they have very little control of what comes into the stores. He recommended people not panic, to just buy the normal things their family needs.
“I am not stocking up,” he advised. “I am buying what I normally need in my regular shopping trips, because the stock up situation is what has created the shortage for everyone else.”
The most noteworthy thing is everyone is calm and it shows. Since his associates are calm, it keeps the customers calm.
“They’re coming to work, they’re taking care of our customers,” he said about his store associates. “If you walk in our stores, our customers are in there. There’s no panic, everyone is very calm, because our associates are calm.”