CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – When it comes to morale on a forward operating base, creature comforts are no small thing.
I saw that firsthand two years ago here on my way to and from an embed in Marjah district. There was only one small PX store on Camp Leatherneck in a tent, and it could take an hour to get through the line for the register. Popular items ranging from T-shirts to energy drinks frequently were out of stock.
The solution? On Nov. 15, the base opened a new PX with a 6,900 square-foot sales floor. To say it is popular would be an understatement — it brings in about $4.5 million in sales each month, and made more money than any other U.S. PX in Afghanistan in March, said store manager Maria Schizas-Price.
If it sustains that pace, it stands to reason the PX could clear $54 million this year. That’s a whole lot of tobacco, protein powder and Red Bull.
Like any forward-deployed PX, items sometimes are unavailable. The overall experience is dramatically better, however, and the monster lines from 2010 and 2011 are gone.
Schizas-Price said the store has about 60 employees, including both U.S. civilians and foreign workers. It has full sections devoted to video games, clothing, toiletries, souvenirs and snack food.