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Shopping

One thing worth noting is that most American shops are wonderful about goods being returned, but there are many different policies, so check with each store before you purchase. Generally, you will have to show your receipt and goods must be in new, unused condition.

A local Sales Tax of 5% is added at point of sale – it will not appear on the advertised price.

Commissaries and Exchanges

In order to shop in the Commissaries or Exchanges (NEX), a US Department of Defense ID is essential for yourself and your children over 10 years of age. You will be asked to show it, possibly at the entrance and definitely to the cashier.

Commissaries are located on military bases and are similar to regular supermarkets selling food, groceries and household items. Prices in the Commissaries are generally less than civilian supermarkets but how much you save may depend on how near you live to a base, or whether you visit a base regularly for another reason.

There is no State tax on goods bought in Commissaries and Navy Exchanges. There is, however, a surcharge of 5% in the Commissaries. Even with the surcharge and tip to whoever brings your bags out to your car, most spouses would agree that prices are still cheaper than in the normal supermarket. Savings on bread and milk tend to be particularly good.

The Commissaries also stock a good range of international foods mainly located in the “Gourmet” aisle.

There are also Commissaries and Exchanges at Langley AFB and Fort Eustis Army Post.

Considerable savings can be made by shopping in the Navy Exchanges on some items but you should compare prices. They stock almost everything you could buy in a discount or department store: clothes, shoes, china, household linens, stationery, books, electronics, and electrical appliances, silver, jewellery, and perfume to name just a few! There are also separate small shops for computers, flowers, optical services, shoe and watch repairs, garden supplies and beverages.

Mess Members are permitted to purchase tax-free liquor in the Red Barn Store of the HQ SACT Staff Mess. It is convenient and there is a limit of 15 bottles in one month. See the “Rules of Conduct for the HQ SACT Staff Mess” for further information.

Now, for shopping off the base:

Supermarkets (rarely closed before 10 pm and some are open 24 hours a day)

Farm Fresh, Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Kroger’s, Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market

All carry large varieties of produce, meats, canned and dry goods.

Harris Teeter and Kroger carry many British and European imports, and there are many little shops that specialise in ethnic foods – The German Pantry in Norfolk, Bella Italia in Virginia Beach and The British Shop also in Virginia Beach are examples.

  • There are various Farmers’ Markets for fresh produce in the Summer and Autumn – watch the newspapers to find where they are.
  • Also check the flyers in your newspapers for coupons provided by manufacturers to encourage you to try their products. These coupons will reduce the cost of many of the items you buy, with savings of a few cents, to a dollar or more.
  • There are several good suppliers of Asian foods, such as the Hana Asian Market.

“Discount” Stores

A variety of shops are good sources of household furnishings, especially useful when arriving (sheets, towels, kitchenware etc), and are a cheap way to find recent fashions in clothing,  shoes and accessories. Marshalls stores offer current-season, brand-name and designer goods for men, women, teens and kids at attractive prices everyday.  TJ Maxx
is the equivalent of the British TK Maxx.  Tuesday Morning is a brand-name, end-of-range chain: if you like it, buy it as it may be gone tomorrow!

The Clothes Shop is an upscale second-hand shop taking in clothes to sell from baby-size to 16, and also has a range of baby equipment, furniture, linens, books, videos, DVDs, and toys.

Shopping Malls

There are lots of small plazas and little groupings of shops – too many to list. Large malls include:

  •  Lynnhaven Mall  – the area’s largest mall, with several major department stores, 150 speciality shops, 25 restaurants, 11 cinema screens – on Lynnhaven Parkway in Virginia Beach, just off Highway 264. There are also many good shops surrounding the mall. –
  • Pembroke Mall – a smaller mall, with department stores, several speciality shops, cinema, a pub and restaurants – at the corner of Independence and VA Beach Boulevard.
  • Greenbrier Mall – in the Chesapeake area, large and new, with major department stores, and over 100 speciality shops – in between Greenbrier Parkway and Highway 64. Across the road from the Mall are even more shops and restaurants.
  • Hilltop – five open malls, with lots of speciality shops – at the junction of Laskin Road and VA Beach Boulevard.
  • Military Circle and Janaf Malls – at the corner of Military Highway and VA Beach Boulevard in Norfolk. Contains department stores, speciality shops and restaurants.
  • MacArthur Centre – a modern complex in Downtown Norfolk with its own multi-storey car park. Quality shops, restaurants, and a multi screen cinema.

Warehouse Clubs

Warehouse clubs are large retailers operating in warehouse-type facilities which offer a wide variety of goods – groceries, clothing, housewares, electronics, furniture, and even auto supplies.  Membership is open to everyone and typically an annual membership fee of $35-$50 is required. Warehouse clubs found in the area include Sam’s Club, BJ’s and Costco.

Outlet Malls

Shops in Outlet Malls sell brand name goods, mainly clothes, at discount prices. The nearest retail outlets are at Williamsburg, Premium Outlets and Williamsburg Outlet Mall;  also the Williamsburg Potteries is a conglomeration of buildings offering a wide range of bargain-priced items.

Local Jewellers

Spertner Jewelers is a family owned business that has been in Hampton Roads since 1879. They carry fine jewelery and estate jewelery and can do custom designs, repairs, appraisals, pearl stringing and watch repair. They are the only jeweler officially licensed by the city of Norfolk to produce the mermaid jewelery. We offer her in Sterling Silver, 14K gold, and Vermeil in pendants, rings, earrings, pins, and bracelets. is prepared to offer 15% discount to the British Community.

Other jewelers that have been used by members of the community are:

Steve Fanelty
Gold Rush Jewelers
Selden Arcade
208 East Main Street – suite 135
Norfolk VA 23510
757 533 9192
Bob DeManche
Boulevard Jewelers‎
373 Independence Boulevard
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
(757) 456-9907
also Mr McFarlane is offering 15% off jewelery at
Studio 29 in the D’Art Centre

Website Deals

We arleady have a Savings & Discount section dedicated to daily e-mail offers for the Hampton Roads area. In addition to the popular sites of Groupon, Living Social, Troopswap – Daily Military Discounts for Hampton Roads Peninsula, you may wish to consider signing up to:


Eversave is a less known site that seeks out your favorite local activities, restaurants, spas and stores, so you can play, eat, relax and shop for less! From spa treatments to cupcakes, ski packages to yoga classes – we find the best deals.

VAT free shopping

Exported goods supplied to British forces personnel based outside the VAT territory of the EC may be eligible for zero-rating VAT, provided that the supplier holds a written order from the member of the forces confirming that they are based outside the EC, or sufficient information confirming that the BFPO number is outside the VAT …

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