Incirlik Commissary supports base during commercial power outage in Turkey

FORT LEE, Va. -- Operating seven days on backup generator power, the commissary at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, was “more than a grocery store” for the service members and their families there during the commercial power outage that began July 16.

By the time electricity was restored to the base July 22, Keith Pollanen, Incirlik Commissary store director, and staff hadn’t missed a beat selling groceries, water, batteries and snack foods to service members.

And then there was more.

“People depend on cell phones and other portable electrical devices, but power was an issue,” said Pollanen. “We took it upon ourselves to gather as many power cords as we could find and set up charging stations with chairs throughout the store so people could come inside, charge their devices and enjoy some air conditioning. Base leadership spread the word about the service, which was a big hit with both U.S. and NATO personnel assigned to the base.”

Except for a five-hour delay before opening July 16, the first full day of the commercial power outage, the store maintained normal business hours. The store’s accomplishments resulted from the team effort between store management, installation leadership, and the commissary logistical support system, according to Salah Ud-Din, the Defense Commissary Agency’s Zone 37 manager, which includes Turkey.

“The entire commissary staff, along with help from some active duty personnel, went above and beyond to receive warehouse deliveries, stock the store, and process patrons at the front-end,” said Ud-Din. “Continual contact with our central distribution centers was a key in keeping product flowing to the store. The local water supplier was also very responsive, delivering more than 100 pallets of water in a three-day period. That’s a lot of water.”

Patron sales for the seven-day period more than doubled compared to the same time last year. Snack foods, batteries, candles, hand wipes, hand sanitizer and drinks were in high demand. The 90-plus degree temperatures outside made demand for bottled water especially high, Pollanen said, and the commissary also supported the installation’s requirement for bottled water, providing some 7,000 cases of water.

“We talk about how unique our commitment is in providing the commissary benefit to our military service members,” said Norman Brown, DeCA Europe Area director. “It’s times like these that show our commitment, that we really are more than a grocery store.”