ALA Executive Briefing
May. 9, 2014

Lawmakers move to block Navy plan to restrict tobacco sales
Military Times
House lawmakers recently moved to protect tobacco sales on military bases and ships, prohibiting Navy plans to drop the problematic products in the name of force health. As part of its annual defense authorization bill mark up, the House Armed Services Committee added language forbidding defense officials from enacting "any new policy that would limit, restrict, or ban the sale of any legal consumer product category" on military installations.More

House panel rejects most proposed military benefit curbs
The House armed services' subcommittee on military personnel has rejected Pentagon plans to: slow increases in military housing allowances starting next year; raise TRICARE fees on families and retirees, and narrow coverage by ending TRICARE Prime, the military's managed care option. But in shaping personnel sections of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill (HR 4435), the subcommittee wouldn't block a planned military pay cap for January. Also, subcommittee chair Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., hinted that the Defense Commissary Agency's budget would be squeezed, and presumably so would shopper savings, if base grocery stores can't run more efficiently.More

Hagel urges Congress not to alter defense budget proposal
Defense News
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently urged Congress to give the Pentagon "flexibility" in its fiscal 2015 budget proposal one day after the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee proposed shifting billions of dollars to fund major weapons programs and undo Defense Department reform initiatives.More

HASC bill would shift billions to weapons, readiness accounts
Defense News
The U.S. House Armed Services Committee wants to shift billions of dollars from things such as service contracts and museums to Pentagon weapon programs. In its version of the 2015 Pentagon authorization legislation, the panel proposes a slew of funding transfers that would give the services billions to refuel the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, develop missile defenses with Israel, buy EA-18G aircraft and upgrade Abrams tanks.More

Hagel orders DOD-wide alcohol review after sex assault report
Stars and Stripes
The Pentagon is targeting alcohol consumption in its battle to curb sexual assaults in the military. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently announced a department-wide review of the services' alcohol policies during a news conference, the same day that the Pentagon released its latest report on sexual assault within the ranks. The Defense Department revealed there were more than 5,000 reports of sexual assault by service members in fiscal 2013, a 50 percent increase over the previous year.More

Committee chair rejects DoD's compensation reforms; adjusts A-10 Fleet retirement
Association of Defense Communities
The full committee portion of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill rejects most of the Obama administration's proposed reforms to military benefits, including plans to slash subsidies for commissaries and slow increases in the basic allowance for housing. The chairman's mark rejects other cost-saving reforms in the Pentagon's FY 2015 budget as well, including plans to retire the Navy's 11th aircraft carrier and to hold a new BRAC round in 2017.More

Commissary case lot sales to resume in August
Military Times
Commissary case lot sales are returning, announced Defense Commissary Agency director Joseph Jeu. Jeu spoke at a commissary round table meeting of the American Logistics Association, whose members include manufacturers and distributors of products sold in commissaries, exchanges and other retail outlets on military bases. The sales will resume this year from mid-August through September, said DeCA spokesman Kevin Robinson.More

Spicy foods are taking over grocery store shelves
CBS News
Spicy foods have never played a starring role in American kitchens. For decades, our meat-and-potatoes diets left little room for adventure at the grocery store, where the closest you got to some heat was a bottle of Tabasco. That's changing in a big way, however. American taste buds are getting bolder, and food producers are kicking their products up a serious notch or two in response.More

Deloitte: America's household brands losing ground
Grocery Headquarters
U.S. consumers are pushing their shopping carts past many of America's national brands and feel little regret in doing so, according to Deloitte's American Pantry Study of more than 375 brands across 30 product categories. Seven in 10 shoppers (71 percent) say they're spending less on food, beverage and household goods, but don't feel like they're sacrificing much. In fact, only 31 percent of brands are considered a "must have" — one that shoppers would buy whether on sale or not — consistent with the last four years that Deloitte has conducted the survey. More

Grocery shopping hacks: 5 money-saving tips from $5 Dinner Mom
ABC News
When it comes to making family dinners, many working parents often run into the same problem: The pantry is stocked but ignored in favor of another pizza night. It's a common complaint from parents juggling the demands of working full-time while running a household: Even though they may go to the grocery store on a regular basis, planning out meals and then having the time to cook those meals, is difficult and sometimes food goes to waste. But in the long run, not doing that can be bad for the family and their finances.More

Cummins Allison: Checks remain popular form of payment
Progressive Grocer
Alternative currencies such as Bitcoin are making headlines, and many retailers are paying increasing attention to their potential. However, although these innovative currencies may be in the news, awareness among U.S. consumers is still quite low. In fact, in a recent survey, 76 percent said they were not at all familiar with Bitcoin. Since alternative currencies aren't likely to become commonplace in the near term, it's no surprise that checks remain a highly used method of payment.More

Survey: Consumers willing to pay more for local
Supermarket News
One-third of consumers — compared with less than one-quarter in 2013 — said they would pay 10 percent more for local food, according to a recent survey from A.T. Kearney. However, the percentage of respondents who would pay a premium for local remained the same as last year (70 percent). The survey also points to the growth of the local food movement. While lack of availability was still the No. 1 factor for not buying local, the percentage of consumers who said, "Products are not available at my retailer," fell 10 to 47 percent this year.More

Don't overlook the human element of systems implementation
By Ken Ackerman
Nearly all of the emphasis on implementation of warehouse management systems and other software is directed toward functionality and technical aspects. Often overlooked — or discovered too late — is human resistance to change. More

Through the fiscal looking glass
Foreign Policy
Once again, reality has been pushed aside in the defense budget debate. The administration transmitted a budget which, across the board, and especially when it comes to the Defense Department, departs from reality.More

Sources: Exchange eyes opening online store to all vets
Military Times
Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials want to expand shopping privileges at the online exchange store to all honorably discharged veterans, sources said. That would open the online store to about 20 million veterans, according to a source familiar with the discussions.More

ALA NY's annual West Point Golf Outing

The ALA NY Chapter is having its annual West Point Golf Outing on Monday, June 23. Proceeds from the event benefit the Military Commanders' Scholarship Fund.

We do not currently have an online registration process - any inquiries can be directed to me at this email address:


Joe Mugnai

VCS announces new Executive Director

Stacy Papachrisanthou
Director Marketing & Communications

May 2, 2014
1 Jefferson Barracks Rd.
Appointment of Joseph R. Tober,
St. Louis, MO 63125
Executive Director of the Veterans Canteen Service

The Department of Veterans Affairs is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Joseph R. Tober as the new Executive Director of Veterans Canteen Service (VCS). VCS provides retail and food services to over 200 VA facilities generating over $429 million in annual revenue. Tober will lead over 3600 executing canteen operations including emphasis on standardization of national programs and policies. His primary focus will be placed on providing the highest level of quality, value and service to Veterans enrolled in VA Healthcare system, their families, VA staff, caretakers and visitors to VA hospitals.

Mr. Tober joined the VCS in 1992. In 2008, he was appointed as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) responsible for the day-to-day operations of canteen activities. From 1992-2008, Tober served as the Associate Director, Resources and Support Veterans Canteen Service. He is a U.S. Army Veteran and has over 38 years of Federal Service to include assignments with the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Defense.

Mr. Tober possesses a Master's Degree from Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri and Bachelor's Degree from University of Maryland. He has extensive leadership certifications to include: Executive Leadership Development in 2011, Federal Executive Institute in 2004, Leadership VA in2001, VA Healthcare Leadership Institute in 2000, and Defense Equal Opportunity management Institute in 2000.

He serves on several committees including Co-chair of Logistics and Procurement, member of National Leadership Council (NLC), Workforce Systems Management Community of Practice, Strategic Plan and Communications, and NLC Capitol and Logistics Sub-Committee.More

Sources: Exchange eyes opening online store to all vets
Military Times
Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials want to expand shopping privileges at the online exchange store to all honorably discharged veterans, sources said. That would open the online store to about 20 million veterans, according to a source familiar with the discussions. AAFES officials contend the move would have no negative impact on current eligible shoppers — and would be a boon to revenues and profits that support military morale, welfare and recreation programs on installations.More

Wal-Mart and CEOs meet to accelerate supply chain innovation
Chain Store Age
Wal-Mart recently joined with CEOs from more than a dozen global companies to sign new commitments that accelerate innovation in sustainable agriculture and recycling. The pledges kicked off Wal-Mart's first-ever Sustainable Product Expo, a three-day collaboration to expand the availability of products that sustain people and the environment. Together, the participating suppliers represent more than $100 billion in sales at Wal-Mart.More

Burberry's 'wicked smart' Ahrendts poised to make over Apple's stores
Angela Ahrendts might not, at first glance, fit in with Apple's jeans-and-button-down dress code. But the former CEO of British luxury retailer Burberry Group could be just what the consumer electronics maker needs to spruce up its retail operations. "She shares our values and our focus on innovation," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an October email to employees announcing Ahrendts' appointment. "She believes in enriching the lives of others, and she is wicked smart."More

NRF: Families look to shower mom with gift cards, brunch, apparel items this Mother's Day
National Retail Federation
After splurging on tablets and smartphones, beauty supplies, apparel and jewelry for mom last year, consumers this year will celebrate Mother's Day keeping practicality in mind. According to NRF's 2014 Mother's Day Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, Americans will spend an average of $162.94 on mom this year, down from a survey high of $168.94 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $19.9 billion.More

With luxury brands, outlet centers give malls a run for their money
Los Angeles Times
Since 2006, 40 outlet centers have opened in the United States while only one new regional mall has emerged, according to Value Retail News. The rise of the discounter coincided with the decline of the economy. Hard times helped erase the stigma that once caused high rollers and fashion snobs to recoil at the thought of outlets. Additionally, many upscale brands see value in moving their sale-priced merchandise out of their full-priced showcase stores, where old, discounted stock ruins the ambiance. Hiding such inventory in an outlet may be a safer strategy that, as a bonus, helps connect the brand to a new consumer base of bargainistas. More

Insurance site and Wal-Mart in deal to sell auto policies
The New York Times
Wal-Mart recently made plans to add a new consumer service to its arsenal of offerings, teaming up with a website that helps customers comparison shop for auto insurance. The website,, allows consumers to review prices at several insurance companies and contrast them with their current insurance. Effectively, Wal-Mart and will be marketing partners.More

Consumers clamor for DIY health care disruption
It's not just the freedom to get an after-hours flu shot at a retail clinic: Turns out consumers are clamoring for all kinds of digital not-yet-on-your-doctor's-radar health care services, according to a new survey from PwC's Health Research Institute. In fact, the growing list of services from in-store clinics, such as CVS' Minute Clinic, Walgreens' Healthcare Clinic and Target Clinics, are just the tip of the DIY healthcare iceberg.More

Smokeless tobacco growing at twice the rate of cigarettes' decline
Cigarette-category volumes in convenience stores were down 2.8 percent during the four-week period ended April 12, according to a research report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. This sales decrease follows a 2.2 percent drop in the prior four-week period and laps 4.0 percent decline in April 2013.More

GameStop to close 120-130 stores — open 300-400 tech stores under new banners
Chain Store Age
GameStop Corp. will close 120-130 of its 6,457 stores worldwide in 2014 and add 300 to 400 new tech stores under three different banners: Spring Mobile, Cricket and Simply Mac. The closures and openings are part of the company's new "GameStop3.0" repositioning. The new strategy emphasizes mobile-gaming. More

Starbucks to enter soft-drink wars this summer
The Seattle Times
Starbucks, eager to make money well beyond the realm of coffee, is officially entering the soda wars. This summer, the coffee shop's baristas will offer a handcrafted carbonated beverage dubbed "Fizzio" in 3,000 stores in the Sunbelt, as well as in Singapore, South Korea and several cities in China, according to CEO Howard Schultz. More

New generation of paper catalogs help drive e-commerce retail sales
The Future of Commerce
Shopping online is incredibly fast and convenient, but it lacks the gratifying experience of looking at goods beautifully displayed—how you might style that skirt, which lamps you might choose to go with that sofa. That's exactly why the old-fashioned catalog is still filling up your mailbox, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal. This paper dinosaur plays a crucial role in driving e-commerce, because it gives the customer the opportunity to fantasize about the goods on display within its pages.More

Sears' loyal customers receive personalized service
The Associated Press
As Sears looks to boost sales, customers have a new reason to join the company's loyalty club: personalized service. The company recently released a service called Get Advice. Here, Shop Your Way customers can tap into a broader community of thousands of Sears associates and tens of millions of loyalty members nationwide for purchasing advice.More

The birth of big-box stores
In 1962, the Cold War nearly turned hot, with the Cuban Missile Crisis bringing the United States and the Soviet Union within a hair of nuclear war. On the other side of the world, the war in Vietnam got bloodier. Seattle unveiled its iconic Space Needle as part of the World’s Fair, and Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors was mesmerizing basketball fans across the country, pouring in 100 points in one game, alone. The same year, but with much less fanfare, 44-year-old Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart discount store in Rogers, Arkansas.More

What's different about tomorrow's mall: You never have to leave
As the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em — mimic 'em? As far as convenience goes, it's hard for physical retailers to compete with their online foes, where consumers can search for the latest products without even pausing to get dressed. But bricks-and-mortar stores aren't giving up. In order to better compete with their Web-only counterparts, physical stores and the malls that house them are aiming to bring the ease of online shopping to the real world, utilizing a new genre of tenants and technologies. More

Sweets & Snacks Expo to highlight healthy choices
The role of candy in a healthful diet will be the focus of the 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo, ranging from education opportunities during a keynote session to tasting panel participation by dieticians. Also, many of the exhibiting companies are planning new launches with health front of mind through portion control packaging and simple ingredient sourcing, according to the National Confectioners Association.More

From spandex to Dress Blues
Strip 1st Lt. Scott T. Wilson of rank, uniform, and the title of Marine. See him as a lean, tall gentleman in his thirties. Now imagine him being lit on fire, jumping out of a window 42 feet above water, hitting it and surviving. Is that something a Marine officer does on his weekends? Perhaps. The jump was a feat Wilson performed as a stunt actor before swearing the oath, and later, pawing his way through cold mud to earn the title Marine. Every Marine has a unique story for how they came to wear the uniform, but few include Hollywood and performing death defying stunts. More

Federal employees can't ask private organizations for gifts
Belvoir Eagle
Federal employees, including service members, aren't allowed to solicit private organizations for gifts in an official capacity. They can accept certain offers, but should be aware of the difference between the two. "It's really important as a government official to remember that you're serving the public. If we ask for a donation or ask for a gift, then basically that could create a conflict of interest," said Albert Veldhuyzen, chief of administrative law for the Fort Belvoir Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.More