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The VCS: 70 Years Young ...

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Highlights of the August 2016 Issue

 

VCS 70th ANNIVERSARY

 

In 1946, as the nation dealt with the after-effects of World War II, many servicemembers and their caregivers continued to need and seek care from the nation’s VA hospitals. The hospitals took care of the medical aspect, but a missing piece of the care equation was retail and foodservice. The Veterans Canteen Service was established to help meet and support those needs. In this issue, VCS’s 70-year evolution into an efficient and effective 21st century retail and foodservice organization is highlighted and recognized for its outstanding successes in serving those who have served our country so bravely. ...

 

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VCS 70th ANNIVERSARY
‘An Integral Part of The VA Community’

 

Joseph “Ray” Tober, VCS Executive Director

Joseph “Ray” Tober, the executive director of the Veterans Canteen Service (VCS), has seen the organization steadily transform itself into a 21st-centry retailer, but acknowledges that work still needs to be done. In this interview, Tober talks about the strides the VCS has made to reach and exceed its sales and operating goals, and how it hopes to continue to offer the level of services that Veterans, their caregivers and VA employees expect, today and into the future..

E and C News: Where do you think VCS stands today in its quest to become a 21st century retailer and benefit?

Joseph “Ray” Tober: Our focus every day is to “enhance the customer experience,” ensuring we exceed the customers’ shopping and dining expectations.

We have introduced a wide variety of name-brand products, expanded our retail offerings to include a larger scope of categories and items while executing best-selling planograms on high-demand, key basics across the nation.

We have introduced technology that has served to enhance our inventory management and replenishment programs, allowing for better and consistent in-stocks of high-volume key items. Our technology and business strategies are indeed working, as evident by our more than 50-percent sales increase over the last 10 years.

Lastly, the one contributing factor that will sustain our success is a motivated and knowledgeable management cadre possessing the right skills and leadership qualities which can execute the strategies of moving the business to the next level in sales, earnings, and services.

These initiatives are just a small part of the overall strategies that place VCS in a great position to move forward into the future. For us, it’s about vision, understanding the direction the business is going, leveraging technology, introducing sound business strategies, and securing a stable and well-trained management workforce. ...

 

Read more VCS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JOSEPH "RAY" TOBER INTERVIEW ...

VCS 70th ANNIVERSARY
Building on a Strong Foundation

 

Carey Filer, Chief Merchandising Officer (CMO)

 

During his nearly four years as the Veterans Canteen Service’s (VCS) chief merchandising officer (CMO), Carey Filer has guided the canteen service’s retail activities as it has consistently put up strong sales growth, year after year, even through challenging economic times. In this interview, Filer reveals how a strong foundation and focus on the VCS mission — supported by empowered staff, fine-tuned processes and a modern approach to planograms and replenishment — has helped improve the shopping experience for PatriotStore customers.

E and C News: What do you think has been the secret to the VCS’s continued sales growth?

Carey Filer: VCS has a strong foundation in place that is focused on our mission, to enhance the lives of Veterans. That foundation begins with enabling our people, enhancing the customer experience, maintaining stewardship and financial strength, and delivering strategic internal processes that put VCS in a position to grow.

With that strong foundation in place, the team has the tools to execute a forward-looking vision that includes incorporating industry best practices to continually improve assortments and drive sales....

 

Read more VETERANS CANTEEN SERVICE'S CHIEF MERCHANDISING OFFICER CAREY FILER INTERVIEW ...

VCS 70th ANNIVERSARY
Seventy Years of ‘Canteens’ and ‘PatriotStores’

 

Value, Convenience and Service Transformed

In 1946, as World War II came to a close, General Omar Bradley led the Veterans Administration as it took on the responsibility of helping to provide comfort, well-being and medical support for America’s returning heroes.

The Veterans of the post WWII era pushed Bradley to create a VA-owned and operated retail and foodservice entity that each Veteran could call home. Why? To stop price inconsistency and poor service offered by private contractors and independent vendors operating in VA hospitals. It became clear to Bradley that an independent entity within the Department was the answer to provide a consistent experience for Veterans and employees.

The VA needed a standardized platform for its retail, food, vending, barber and other services across the Administration. So in 1946, Congress passed Public Law 636 creating the Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) as a self-sustaining entity within the VA whose mission and responsibilities were included in Title 38 of the U.S. Code. ...

 

Read more SEVENTY YEARS OF 'CANTEENS' AND 'PATRIOTSTORES' ...

VCS EMBLEMATIC, LOGO AND SOUVENIR
AdaptingToTrends

 

Carey Filer, Chief Merchandising Officer (CMO)

 

Military items — emblematic, logo and souvenir merchandise — are trendsensitive areas, and Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) PatriotStores are shaping their assortment to reflect the trends in these areas that have recently emphasized female veterans and domestically-made items.

According to Karolyn Childress, the VCS’s divisional merchandise manager (DMM)/buyer responsible for menswear and military apparel, fiscal 2016 year-to-date military sales though June were $3.8 million, and represented 4.1 percent of the canteen service’s total retail business.

“Our strongest category in military logo continues to be caps/headwear,” Childress said. “All three auto-replenishment vendors who supply our caps rotate designs every few weeks to ensure fresh, updated styles in our canteens. That way, our repeat Veteran customers consistently have new styles to choose from and purchase, which in turn, drives increased sales in the headwear category.” ...

 

Read more VCS EMBLEMATIC, LOGO AND SOUVENIR ADAPTING TO TRENDS ...

VCS HEALTHY FOODS
‘Mission’ Meets ‘Healthy’ At PatriotStores, PatriotCafés

 

Food, beverages and candy have been on a roll for the Veterans Canteen Service (VCS), and along with this, VCS buyers are sourcing to meet patrons’ preferences among both established and emerging food subcategories, including a greater variety of what the organization calls “Smart Choices.”

“We love to say NO — no MSG, no gluten, no GMO, no artificial colors, no added sugars and no added preservatives,” said Caryn Gottlieb, VCS senior merchandise manager and buyer, food and beverages.

“These are some of the properties that are defining today’s healthier choices with the consumer,” she continued. “The retail consumer is snacking more often and forgoing that candy bar and choosing healthier bars from Kind, Goodness Knows and Think Thin. They are also saying ‘yes’ to dark chocolates and heart-healthy nuts like almonds.” ...

 

Read more VCS HEALTY FOODS 'MISSION' MEETS 'HEALTHY' AT PATRIOTSTORES, PATRIOTCAFES ...

Snapshot
RESALE SNAPSHOT — MAY 2016

 

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