Crazy Town: The Commissary on Shutdown Day

Meat commissary

Wondering what the commissary is looking like on shutdown day?

Two words: meat rush.

In case you hadn’t heard, with a government shutdown actually at play, the commissary will be closed starting tomorrow, Oct. 2, until the shutdown is resolved.

Because I like to the live on the edge, I hauled myself and my two little guys to the commissary this morning to buy our weekly groceries.

I know what you’re thinking — payday PLUS shutdown day? H-e-double-hockey-sticks no.

We went first thing, hoping to beat the bulk of the crowd. Which is why I was surprised to see the parking lot already brimming with shoppers at 0740 in the morning — 15 minutes before they technically even opened for real shopping. Even on a normal payday, we usually are one of only around 20 or so cars in the parking lot. Not today.

An unlike in 2011 when we also put our sanity on the line and visited the commissary on the verge of a government shutdown, everyone seemed to know about the store’s impending closure. And everyone was stocking up at meat.

meat commissary 2

And at 0830 almost all the ground beef was completely gone.

Meat commissary


Which makes sense. Here at SpouseBuzz we know that meat at the commissary is the one that is almost always cheaper than other stores.

“I don’t usually buy this much meat, but I am stocking up for three weeks, just in case,” one patron said. “With the shutdown you just don’t know.”

But that’s just the situation here at Fort Campbell. We’ll be heading back to the store this evening to see how things have fared over the course of the day.

What are things looking like at your commissary?

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.

42 Comments on "Crazy Town: The Commissary on Shutdown Day"

  1. sabrinacking | October 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm |

    OH my goodness Amy, is that you wearing sweats and tennis shoes to the commissary? How dare you? I mean what a faux pas…lol.

  2. I'm scared to go look. I'll send Bill in for dry goods – he's trained for this stuff! (Ha ha.) (ohhh, bad jokes.)

  3. commyshopper | October 1, 2013 at 2:22 pm |

    Nothing marked down @ our commy. The meat department said, "What? It's already a low price." No produce reductions…I guess they don't expect it to last

  4. Actually, our Commissary at Ft. Huachuca is closed anyway on Monday. We did our shopping on Saturday. This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of. Since when did food become "non-essential"? Did I miss something?

    • It's "non-essential" when you can take your happy self to the Albertson's on Fry or to Walmart.

  5. We live overseas and a lot of our shelves were empty and ours is not closing. I know it was payday but today looked like the day before Thanksgiving!

    • Too funny! I told my husband the exact same thing. The only difference was there were plenty of boxes of maccaroni and lots of frozen turkeys hanging around! We live on a tiny Navy base in New Orleans, so I can imagine what its like in the bigger cities.

  6. Shawn McFadden | October 1, 2013 at 4:16 pm |

    I'm going to assume this is also happening at Fort Hood Texas???

  7. Same thing happened at Ft. Dix. Was crazy in there.

  8. Was the meat discounted more?? I despise shopping at the commissary and generally just stick to wallys. While on post today for a craft group I thought about going over and seeing if it was worth all the hype. But instead we just went back home to hoptown.

    • No, nothing was discounted. God, if the stuff was free you people would complain that it cost too much. The commissaries were only open today so that they could sell as much meat and produce as they can so in case of an extended shutdown they would not have much loss inventory due to spoilage. Taxpayers initially pay for the products and the commissaries recoup the money for the taxpayers by selling at cost.

  9. Pauline… it's Tuesday

  10. Juan Rivera-Colon | October 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

    My wife called me and said, ” the line is wrapped around the building.”@ Ft Gordon’s commissary.


  12. Anybody on Moody AFB I really need a friend

  13. All was calm on Fort Sam

  14. Ours had lines that wrapped around the store. Our commissary is on of the few that is not cheaper than town. We ended up going to the local grocery store.

  15. No one – including DECA said there would be markdowns. Their website and personnel stated they were open to sell perishable goods. People we stocking up freezers to save $ during the shutdown; not because of markdowns. Both Bragg Commissaries were packed w/people. Empty shelves = less product loss which means continued lower prices.

    • Actually my DIL called me in a PANIC because a friend of her SAID there would be markdowns to get rid of perishables. He is a manager at a local store. Either he lied or was misinformed. So, yes someone said it to me at least.

    • Thank you "CC", you "get it." At least there is somebody in here that is not totally clueless.

  16. Hey are Commissary prices cheaper than civilian prices? Had not been in a Commissary in years. Thanks

    • NWS CHASN SC avg10-25% less……35yrs of savings……I've waited in longer chow lines….

  17. I live on ft campbell and just got back from the commissary. It’s a 45 min line for check out and it’s three separate lines. Meat is gone, but nothing is marked down. People have three carts or more. It’s crazy!!!

  18. Was going to go the South Commissary at Fort Bragg, NC but the parking lot was almost full so I just drove off and went to samsclub.

  19. For the most part only shopped at two commissaries Ft Meade and Ft Lewis main at JBLM and neither have ever truly been cheaper so I almost always do my shopping off base. Couldn't imagine there being a reason to go do battle today especially with living a few miles off base and having five different grocery stores, a Trader Joe's, an organic local produce shop and two local produce/meat markets that are all closer than the base. Just feel sorry for those on bases that are limited on civilian places to shop.

  20. Ft Knox said they would be closed Wed until our leaders get their acts together

  21. So thankful ours will remain open.

  22. Military spouses on a meat rush. Either the commissary closed, or there is a our husbands just deployed party at Tarawa Terraces. Heck maybe even both.

  23. My husband stopped by for two things that are a lot cheaper for us and said NO MARKDOWNs, a lot of people but there the same amount there were Sunday because it's payday. Plenty of food available, no markdowns or runs on perishables. This is in San Diego 32d Street commissary.

  24. man…thought I 'd never see this day again

  25. I went to our commissary at 735pm tonight. The line stared in produce and signs all over said select produce 1/2 off at registers. Everything from grapes to avocados to tomatoes etc, most all of it was 1/2 off. Then the meat- they put coupons on all the Tyson products and the reduced the price on almost everything else. The red was gone but I got massive amounts of chicken and pork for way less plus the deli meat and cheese they where slicing up and just tossing bags on the counter of everything at reduced prices to get rid of it. I mean- 2 pounds of turkey for like three bucks is unheard of!
    Ft Bliss …. While it was nice the insanity was a bit much. Everyone was super nice to each other and we al obviously had one goal in mind. Because the line started in the produce area and wrapped a full circle around the store, it was easy to just get in line, an run down the aisle that you needed something in. That way ou had your place in line and sill got everything from every aisle cause you passed each one…. And everyone else was doing the same thing. I got photos and they are hilarious. LOL

  26. Pearl Harbor commissary was a madhouse today, because of the shutdown. Also since I work there as a bagger and cart puller, I just lost my only source of income until further notice.

  27. scottulrich1971 | October 2, 2013 at 9:39 am |

    Went to Keesler AFB Commissary and they told us that they think that they will reopen in about 2 days and it will all be over with. They said they are putting their meats in the cooler and not cutting anymore meats. Nothing was even marked down for a one day only speedy reduction. I recommend watching the expiration dates on any items you purchase from their upon their reopening day when it happens. I get expired items in my shopping cart all the time there. I have 10+ years of retail market employment experience and know that someone should by fired for not trying to push out this stuff to get rid of the possibility of waste. I laughed at the employees there that told me about their plans to reopen in a few days. I guess they think they can bypass the Pentagons order and reopen for a discount reduction run when they got that order back at midnite of the 30th. Whoops their boss missed that memo.. He is not experienced in Gov't run operations enough and needs to go back to managing private grocery stores for sure. There is no chance in a political cooperation from either side in site as it stands for now and that means they were wrong to assume that they would be back online in 2 days. My Navy trained us that assumption is the mother of all screw-ups!!!

  28. Truculent Turtle Too | October 2, 2013 at 9:45 am |

    Pensacola Fl : com was busy, and saw only one section of shelves empty. no great sales. signs up closed 10/2/13 (today). was busy, but not unlike any other payday ( 15 mins inline, less than 8 mins to check out)

  29. Dianne Milligan | October 2, 2013 at 10:29 am |

    I work at Ft Belvoir Commissary in Va. Yesterday we closed because of the shutdown and it was really crazy. We were getting calls about reduced prices. None to my knowledge business as usual.

  30. We went to Walmart last night and saw one of the guys my husband works with he said that the Commissary here at Carson was crazy and told us not to go. We don't do our grocery shopping at the Commissary anyways we shop out in town. Lucky for me I went on Sunday to get my PUR water filter for my sink.

  31. Definitely stocked up on dairy, bread and meat which is significantly cheaper at the Schofield Barracks commissary here in Hawaii. It took one full hour in the checkout line however everyone was patient and it went well. The prices were the same and I didn't see any sales or markdowns. Hopefully this will resolve soon, as I know it's challenging to stay on budget on the economy here.

  32. Oceana Commissary in Virginia Beach, VA was like a ghost town yesterday on Tuesday, October 2, 2013.

  33. The BBC have linked your posr. Greetings from London ;)

  34. We had the same problem here. Fortunately things are getting back to "normal" at the commissary, whew!

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