::UPDATE 17 Nov 05: According to a recent command update from California Wing's commander to her membership, this "gag" post isn't too far off the mark. It appars that the NEC voted to outsource CAPMart to Vanguard Industries in a move that will supposedly bring CAP $100,000 annually. Don't expect a "going out of business" sale, as CAPMart's entire inventory will be taken over by Vanguard. --RandomCPGuy
Civil Air Patrol's CAPMart Operation in Wal-Mart Takeover
Bentonville, AR - In a surprise move, officials at Wal-Mart in Bentonville, Arkansas today announced that the retail supercenter giant would be taking over the Civil Air Patrol's "CAPMart" operation currently based at Maxwell AFB, AL on January 1st, 2006.
"Its a great fit for us," said Wal-Mart Chief Operating Officer Richard Fitzwell, "And the best part is, we only have to ship half a sign to Maxwell. The 'Mart' part will remain, and we'll just replace the "CAP" with "WAL" and that will be that. It really adds to the synergy that we don't have to spend thousands on rebranding."
As part of the deal, Wal-Mart will take over the CAPMart facility on Maxwell AFB, turning it into a regional distribution center while maintaining an exceptionally small retail presence at the historically significant Building 848. Workers were seen moving in the mechanical pony ride and the "grabber" arcade game this week, and a soda machine featuring Wal-Mart-brand "Sam's Choice" soda had magically appeared outside the entrance overnight.
Company officials noted privately that Wal-Mart has been drawing its greeter staff from the ranks of active CAP members in the great state of Florida for many years.
"We probably have more CAP personnel on our payroll than any other employer in the US," commented Wal-Mart spokeswoman April Blake. "This gives us a great opportunity to hire military retirees."
Spokeswoman Blake took that opportunity to introduce the Maxwell AFB's new facility manager, retired AF colonel Al Allenback, himself a veteran of the Civil Air Patrol organization. Allenback refused to answer questions posed by the assembled press, instead referring inquiries to the new store's PR manager, Ms. Mary Nell Crowe.
Customer service is expected to improve, as will the selection of products and the prices. The overall quality of the items offered for sale, however, will not change.
"Grade insignia for the Air Force-style and CAP-distinctive uniforms and CAP ribbons currently manufactured in sweatshops in Honduras will continue to be made there," said Blake. "You can expect to need to replace your ribbons at the same rate you do now. Maybe even a little sooner. Anybody in retail will tell you, churn is good. Patches & metal insignia will also continue to be manufactured in Taiwan. "
Industry insiders speculate that Wal-Mart may eventually eshew CAPMart's Taiwanese & domestic suppliers and move production of some items to its industrial partners in China. Acquisition officials at the Pentagon were unavailable for official comment, but one staffer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, suggested that even a retail giant like Wal-Mart should tread lightly where uniform items are concerned.
"Look at the Army's beret flap in 2001. Now they're made in Bangledesh or Kenya or some such place. China. Bangledesh. What's the difference?"
Other nationwide uniform & insignia suppliers reacted with mixed concerns.
Tom Flanagan, owner and operator of the long-standing and popular Civil Air Patrol-oriented "Hock Shop" in Massachusetts, seemed unconcerned about the entry of the retail giant into the uniform & insignia retail space.
"Worried? Hell no!" barked Flanagan from his home office near to the Mass Pike in Brockton, MA. "Wal-Mart already called me and offered to buy me out and give me a job at the Brockton store over on Oak Street. I start next Wednesday as the afternoon greeter on the supermarket side."
Nametag suppliers like Lakland, FL-based Williams & Williams have recently come under criticism from Civil Air Patrol in the last year for offering items like high-quality flight suit nametags at a decent price, but without giving Civil Air Patrol's CAPMart a cut. How this take-over will affect these businesses remains to be seen.
Wal-Mart's Blake was quick to point out: "We'll continue to offer a wide variety of items that CAP members have come to expect from CAPMart. Even those 'not-quite-uniform' items that cannot be worn on the Air Force -style uniform. Right now CAPMart only has 2 or 3 of these products, but we plan to expand that offering to 30 or 40 lines by mid-year. We expect that CAP's uniform manual will be updated to reflect these changes in a very, very timely manner."
In addition to the retail space, a branch of the Max Federal Credit Union is slated to open inside the former CAPMart facility, followed by the usual Wal-Mart snackbar and a nail salon. Local residents familiar with the facility are puzzled at the large retail expansion.
"Snackbar? And a nail salon?" asked SMSgt Binton Quinn, a base airman and frequent shopper at the nearby AAFES BX, "That building's not that big. They'll only be able to have two or three merchandise racks after all that.."
Buzz around the base also centers on the possible inclusion of a full-service Wal-Mart pharmacy in the Maxwell facility, although who would run such an operation is unclear. The name of local pharmacist, Paul Albano Sr., was attached to the project, but when pressed, Wal-Mart officials would neither confirm nor deny the rumor.
The Wal-Mart take over not only extends to CAPMart's brick-and-mortar presence at Building 848 on the base's Arnold Street, but the popular CAPMart website, too.
"Civil Air Patrol merchandise and insignia will be available soon on a special section of the Wal-Mart website," commented spokeswoman Blake. "Members will be able to order up a couple red service ribbons, or a set of observer wings and a ground team badge along with a George Foreman Lean Mean Grillin' Machine™ or Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith Special Edition DVD."
Visitors to the Wal-Mart website praise its intuitive menus and fast, responsive Internet connection, along with the ability to search for items and add items to the online shopping cart, as well as check out, easily. Rank-and-file Civil Air Patrol members look forward to this transition.
"Between getting my account password straightened out and paging thru the checkout process, it took my mom over an hour on CAPMart to order up a 2nd set of chevrons for my BDUs," said Cadet First Sergeant Johann "Joey" Heighspeid. "I picked up seven new X-Box games and a 100-piece set of socket wrenches on Wal-Mart's website in about 35 seconds. And the shipping for the socket set was the same as the shipping for the darn chevons! Maybe Wal-Mart can get the diamond finally authorized."
The transition from CAPMart to Wal-Mart is expected be completed after the facility closes for the December holiday on 24 December. It will be open on New Years Day, and all federal holidays, but closed on Sam Walton and John F. Curry's birthdays.
You will note that this post is humorous. If you missed that, you need help.