Butler VA Health Care System
NEWS CLIP- Refurbished Butler VA 'canteen'
January 27, 2011
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE-- January 27, 2011
On a recent Thursday morning, disabled U.S. Army veteran Joe Lofton of Slippery Rock Township was meandering among the brightly lit and spanking new shelves at Butler VA Healthcare's newly remodeled retail shop.
Known to the regulars -- and Mr. Lofton is nothing if not a regular -- as the "canteen," the Veterans Patriot Store recently underwent a head-to-toe renovation that has brought to the store more merchandise in a prettier setting.
"I'm doing some sightseeing today. I don't know if I'll buy anything or not. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't," said Mr. Lofton, 72.
He uses the shop, on the campus of the Veterans Administration Butler Medical Center, off New Castle Road in Butler Township, to buy everything from batteries and greeting cards to electronic items. "The prices are reasonable," he said. Furthermore, nothing is taxed since the store is a nonprofit outfit that benefits veterans and their families. Employees also are permitted to shop there. All money that is made is put back into services, said shop program manager Yvonne Foley.
"It's indescribable," Mr. Lofton said of the renovation.
His reaction is typical, said cashier Kristin Kemper. "Everybody loves it. They say it's brighter and nicer and there's more merchandise to pick from," she said.
Ms. Foley said the warm reception of the four-month renovation, completed in September, is reflected in the amount of business being conducted. Compared with the same period in 2009, the last four months of 2010 saw an increase in business of about $30,000. The store and the cafe, operated through the same program, generated more than $100,000 in business total during that final third of the year.
Ms. Foley, an employee for 31 years and manager since 1995, said things have changed dramatically in the canteen during her tenure. "When I first started, 90 percent of our business was tobacco sales," she said.
Now, the shop offers iPads, televisions and women's clothing as well as the traditional veterans merchandise, like caps with military insignias.
The store is open from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.