Kate Is Clueless: What The Exchange Stocks

As you may know, I don’t know about a lot of stuff.  One thing that completely baffles me is the products that are stocked by the military exchanges, including AAFES and the NEX.  I know that I don’t represent every exchange shopper, but I think I’m relatively typical.  We have a little bit more disposable income than some other families, because we’re debt free and my husband has been serving for quite a few years.  And we’re a little older, because, well, we’re older.  But we’re still pretty typical.

So, why does so little of the stuff for sale at the military exchanges appeal to me?  Admittedly, we are at a teensy little base right now, but my husband’s last duty station was at a huge base.  And I would still wander around the exchange and wonder – who buys this stuff?  If one of my children needs clothes, I’m not going to the exchange, because their choices for pre-teen and teen girls are atrocious.  If I need housewares, I’m unlikely to go to the exchange because their prices aren’t that good.  If I want electronics, I *might* check out the exchange, but most of their offerings are a little bigger/snazzier/more upscale than I am usually seeking.  And purses – don’t even get me started.

I find this really confusing.  I am assuming that the exchange want to stock things that appeal to their customers, but I very rarely hear people who are happy with the choices available.  So where is the disconnect?  Why don’t the exchange purchasing (and distribution) people know what the customers want to buy?

I would love to hear what you think about this.  Am I way off?  Do you love your exchange?  Is there something for which they are always the best place to shop?  Or do you have feelings that are similar to mine?  Are there any departments where you just can’t fathom why they stock the things they stock?

Speak up – I love to hear!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Christine C

    I rarely go to the exchanges near me for the same reasons as you & you’re right on the purses! Holy Cannoli!

  • guest

    I’ve purchased a total of one thing at the exchange…my husbands mac book, they price matched a sale from best buy and it was tax free so I saved a few hundred bucks. Other than that, even tax free, I can usually find the stuff cheaper on sale.