The Army Airforce and Exchanges Services (AAFES) has a program that promotes the products and services of veteran owned businesses. The Exchanges Services Vendor Partner Program offers a marketplace for specialized and niche products from small, woman, and veteran-owned businesses. Short-term and long-term placements are offered. Under the Exchange Services Short-Term Program, veteran owned businesses can display and sell their products and services in the retail areas of the Post Exchange. To operate in a permanent location, small business vendors would apply for the Long-Term Concession Program.
“Operating from any of the main exchange locations has proven to be a very profitable platform for us to extend our reach as a business. We always increase our daily sales by 45% when we are at these locations,” said Ashley Marie Booker-Knight.
Knight and Qianna Cannon, both Army veterans and authors, founded Words Unite Bookstore. It was created as a platform for Indie writers who want to place their works in a store without the challenges presented by mainstream bookstores. It offers books signed by authors and provides a consignment opportunity for other small business owners who create interesting products.
Knight and Cannon started with Words Unite pop-up stores at Fort Hood and Fort Bliss in November 2019. They now plan to expand to Fort Rucker in September and Buckley Air Force Base in December.
“Even in these uncertain times and new precautions, we are still able to sell our books to amazing readers,” said Knight.
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Pictured are Words Unite Bookstore owners Ashley Marie Booker-Knight, at left, and Qiana Cannon. Also pictured is their pop-up store at Fort Bliss.