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Living in Germany

How To Germany

AAFES - ARMY AND AIR FORCE EXCHANGE SERVICE - Europe

Newcomers to Europe are often surprised to discover that they have hardly left home as far as shopping is concerned.

The Exchange supplies its customers with consumer electronics, cameras, videos, name brand sporting goods, new cars, car rental, alcoholic beverages, clothing, household appliances, health and beauty aids and laundry service, to name but a few.

AAFES-Europe operates movie theaters, which show current Hollywood productions at bargain prices, and it operates shoppettes. These are convenience stores with a limited stock of food, beverages, health and beauty products. They usually have extended hours and are sometimes combined with gas stations, Class Six (liquor) stores or video rental facilities. Newer facilities include a new shopping center in Ansbach. And new Exchange shopping center was opened in Hainerberg in Wiesbaden in early 2015.

A relatively new asset for AAFES-Europe is the largest shopping mall in the American military. The Kaiserslautern Military Community Center (KMCC) at Ramstein opened in late 2009. It includes an eight-story, 350-room hotel, parking for 2,800 cars, a four-screen movie theater, the world’s largest base exchange, dozens of smaller stores, nine eateries, an Outdoor Recreation Center, a mega bookstore and a day spa.

The AAFES-Europe Region is headquartered in Sembach, Germany, and is part of the worldwide AAFES exchange system. Its two-fold mission is 1) to provide customers quality merchandise and services at competitively low prices, and 2) to generate earnings that provide a dividend to support morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) programs.

In addition to funding MWR efforts, The Exchange earnings are used to build new stores or renovate existing facilities without expense to the federal government. Historically, roughly two-thirds of The Exchange earnings are paid to MWR. In fact, strong sales and earnings at Army & Air Force Exchange Service facilities, the Exchange Online Store and Exchange Catalogs helped deliver more than $2.4 billion to Army, Air Force, National Guard, Marine Corps and Navy MWR and Services efforts in the past 10 years.

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LOW PRICES

In addition to generating earnings for quality of life programs, The Exchange offers some substantial savings. It charges no sales tax and has a number of items featured as Price Cut merchandise. This normally applies to household items and goods that are in constant demand.

The AAFES-Europe buying staff shops European markets and offers special “Europe Exclusive” merchandise only available to overseas customers. Special buys from Eastern European countries as well as Russia provide a unique selection at great prices. The Exchange shoppers in Europe will find reminders of their time in Europe, such as giftware and souvenir items, Polish pottery, Italian ceramics and Belgian tapestries in stores to name but a few. The European buyers also concentrate on items that overseas customers need such as 220-volt appliances and ready-to-assemble furniture at affordable prices.

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ONLINE WITH THE EXCAHNGE

The Exchange website, www.shopmyexchange.com provides not only great shopping opportunities, but also an online forum for authorized customers to gather information on their military communities, view sales fliers, print coupons, complete Military Star Card applications and payments plus much more. Online shopping is another convenient way for the military customer to shop for quality merchandise.

Simply log onto the site and begin shopping. The merchandise selection includes just about everything available in the stores also items that are available exclusively online. The web page also lists weekly specials and closeouts at extraordinary prices.

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SERVICES

The Exchange provides just about every service a person in Europe needs, from hair care and laundry services to auto repair, car washes, car rental, electronic repair and optical services. Customers can come to The Exchange for cell phones, residential internet, phone service, and cable TV. There are spas where you can get a massage, facial or manicure and Exchange New Car Sales where you are guaranteed a great price on a new car.

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GASOLINE

The Exchange also provides command motorists with gasoline. It has its own on-base stations where gas can be purchased in cash, with credit and debit cards and coupons (in certain countries). The Exchange has a contract with ESSO to provide gasoline in Germany and The Netherlands. In Germany a high tech automated gas ration card is issued and is good at both the Exchange and ESSO stations. The German government asked for this change, which took place in 2008. A card can't be transferred between vehicles. The stations will only honor it if the vehicle matches the registration and license number on the card.

In Italy, AAFES participates in the Navy Exchange Service Command fuel coupon program.

There are also Exchange-operated gas stations on military installations in The Azores, Turkey and the UK. These Exchange gas stations give customers the convenience of using cash, check and debit or credit cards for their purchases.

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FOOD OPERATIONS

The Exchange fast food facilities provide a taste of home to families living in Europe and to the Military and Civilians deployed in support of OEF/OND. Customers can enjoy Burger King, Popeye’s, Taco Bell, Charlie’s Steakery, Pizza Hut, Subway and more, all just around the corner from where they live and work. The KMCC at Ramstein has a Johnny Rockets restaurant, Captain D’s Seafood Kitchen Restaurant and Manchu Wok Chinese restaurant for exchange customers.

The Exchange operates its own bread, ice cream and water plant to support the shoppettes, fast food establishments and commissaries.

Another food mission for The Exchange is the operation of the USDA School Lunch Program. It provides nutritious lunches daily to K-12 students at DoDDS schools throughout Europe following the same regulations and guidelines as schools throughout the United States. The Exchange was appointed by the Army and Air Force as the school feeding authority overseas. It operates the program on a break-even basis.

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AFN SATELLITE RECEIVER

If you live off base and want to get the full range of television and radio programming from AFN through satellite, visit your Exchange PowerZone to lease or purchase an AFN receiver and dish. Don't forget to check with your landlord for permission to mount the satellite dish. The AFN website has instructions on how to set up the receiver once you have permission.

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FIND THE CLOSEST EXCHANGE

You can easily find any Exchange in Europe (as well as in CONUS and the Pacific) at the following link: http://www.shopmyexchange.com/ExchangeStores/

Choose the desired Region and Location. You’ll find complete information about the stores, services and concessionaires as well as contact numbers and operating hours.

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