Fort Belvoir’s commissary is known by staff within the Defense Commissary Agency as ‘the beast in the east,’ for consistently leading agency sales, and for being the largest facility in the country, according to store manager Ken Cunningham.
Cunningham said, in a visit with the Eagle last week, that the commissary is a well-oiled machine, and one of the important cogs in that machine is Michelle Sibinksi, a supervisory store associate who helps run the front end, and is one of the last smiling faces customers see on the way out.
More than nine years ago, Sibinski, at Fort Humphries, South Korea with her husband, an Army pilot, wanted to find a job out of boredom. After applying for a cashier job at the commissary on post, won the job over 101 other applicants.
“I was so happy when I got the phone call, I started screaming,” she said.
When Sibinski’s husband transferred to Fort Belvoir in 2013, she was able to continue working as a commissary cashier, and, after six months, became a customer service ambassador when DECA first rolled out the program.
Store manager Cunningham said Sibinski’s experience made her a good fit.
“We only give those to people who can handle that situation, because that’s a lot to handle. You have to have someone that’s been in DECA for a bit, who knows the front end (operation of the commissary) and knows customer service,” he said.
Sibinski was involved in the 2017 opening of the new facility, and said her overnight shift during the transition was one of her favorite times.
“I came in at 3 a.m., and I loved that shift, because that meant I got to play softball and be there with my kids,” she said.
It was also when she got to appreciate the round-the-clock nature of a superstore.
“I do not like my job – I love my job,” said Sibinksi. “Military life is different; the diversity here and equality that this agency has is far beyond the (civilian) world. The treatment I’ve gotten here is far different. They are always caring for their people. When I got off work last night, a customer wanted to meet me, and told me ‘you are the right person for this job’ after he had an issue with his payment, and I resolved it for him,” Sibinski noted. She said many customer questions or complaints require some research to get a satisfactory answer. When asked about her team, Sibinksi beams.
“I learn so much in this job, and it’s satisfying when I have a customer leave the store with a smile. The team is always there and ready to help each other out.”