History of the Coast Guard Exchange


For more than sixty years, the Coast Guard Exchange has provided savings and value to the Coast Guard family while contributing funds to MWR programs.



Our History starts more than six decades ago. Published in 1950, the Coast Guard Exchange Manual prescribed "the rules and instructions for the establishment and operation of Coast Guard Exchanges, Exchange Activities, and Morale Funds at Coast Guard units."Authority for these programs rested with the Chief, Office of Personnel. Back then, exchanges were small, convenience-type stores run by the local base command.



Like bell-bottom jeans changed the fashion of the day, the 1970s brought changes to the Coast Guard Exchange. The 1973 version of the Non-Appropriated Fund Activities manual provided, "policies, regulations, and procedures for the establishment and operation of Coast Guard exchanges ashore and afloat, under the technical direction of Commandant (G-F), the Coast Guard Comptroller.” Various exchange stores, service clubs, beverage stores and other nonappropriated fund revenue-generating operations were combined into a single system - the Coast Guard Non-Appropriated Fund Activities (NAFA).Many of our exchanges adopted a groovy new name, “NAFA”.



The early 1980’s brought a “new wave” for the Coast Guard Exchange system. Oversight of the Exchange System now rested with the Office of Resale Systems, G-FRS. In 1987, under the Coast Guard realignment, oversight of exchange activities by district offices ended and the NAFA name was no longer used. The new organizational title "Coast Guard Exchange System" (CGES) was established for use in referring to the service-wide system of retail activities.



For the first time, exchanges coordinated some of their efforts in merchandising and promotions. In 1990, the first exchange-wide advertising program began with four printed flyers produced a year. In 1997, the Coast Guard Exchange System moved from Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC to Chesapeake, Virginia and was combined with the Field Support Office of Portsmouth, VA.



Throughout this decade, many of the Exchange components were centralized. Functions once handled at the store level, such as buying and human resources were moved to Exchange headquarters in Chesapeake, VA in order to streamline processes and increase the efficiency of the organization. 

In 2001, accounting cost centers were centralized. In 2003, Exchanges were organized into four regions, reporting to region managers. In 2005, the Finance Center in Cleveland, OH, was stood up. Merchandising became a central function at the Chesapeake headquarters.

In 2006, the first central-planned reinvestment in CGX stores began, with major renovations scheduled over several years. Since implementation, over 30 CGX locations have been rebuilt or remodeled, including all seven stores at Coast Guard training centers.

In 2007, the new CGX logo was introduced and used in all Coast Guard Exchange advertising, shopping bags and new store signs.
In March 2009, the Community Services Command (CSC) was established, operating the Coast Guard Exchange, serving as program manager for MWR, and also serving as the Coast Guard's non-appropriated funds center of excellence. CSC is part of the Personnel Service Center service line, working for the Deputy Commandant for Mission Support.That fall, CSC moved the Cleveland Finance Center operations to new centralized CSC offices in Chesapeake, VA.

In October 2009, the Coast Guard Exchange opened its 40,000 square ft “flagship” exchange in Chesapeake, VA. - more than double the size of the next largest Coast Guard Exchange.


Today, the Coast Guard Exchange continues to grow and excel at its mission to provide quality goods and services at a savings to those who protect the homeland, as well as provide a dividend to MWR programs. CGX offers savings and value to their customers in 67 stores in 24 states and Puerto Rico, and also on line at shopCGX.com. Now savings from your CGX is a close as your laptop, tablet or smart phone!

And we’re making history too! By combining all the efforts of our past with the technology of today we’ve improved our operations to make the largest contributions to Coast Guard MWR programs, ever! In the past five years, CGX has contributed over $13.2 million to Coast Guard MWR programs.