Costco rival BJ’s Wholesale Club just filed to go public — here’s what it’s like to shop there

BJ's Wholesale sells, well, everything.

caption
BJ’s Wholesale sells, well, everything.
source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

  • BJ’s Wholesale is a membership-based warehouse club selling everything from fresh produce to furniture.
  • BJ’s competes with other warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club.
  • The warehouse chain filed to go public on Thursday, with plans to trade on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • We visited a BJ’s Wholesale in Jersey City, New Jersey, to see what it was like to shop there.

BJ’s Wholesale is a membership-based warehouse club selling groceries, clothing, furniture, and just about everything else.

BJ’s competes with similar warehouse clubs Costco and Sam’s Club. While the competition is tough, BJ’s is showing some signs of strength. On Thursday, the warehouse chain filed to go public, with plans to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “BJ.” BJ’s had previously traded publicly until it made a deal with two private-equity firms to take it private in 2011, according to CNN Money.

Shopping at BJ’s is a privilege exclusive to its paying members. The Online Access membership, the cheapest membership plan, costs $10 annually and gives you access to member prices on the BJ’s website. The Inner Circle membership costs $55 annually, allowing you to shop in stores or online and use BJ’s travel services, optical center, auto center, and more. For $110, BJ’s Perks members get everything the Inner Circle members get, plus 2% cash back on purchases.

We recently visited a BJ’s in Jersey City, New Jersey – here’s what it’s like to shop there:


We visited a BJ’s Wholesale Club in Jersey City, New Jersey.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

At the front of the store was the tech department, selling a huge selection of laptops and TVs. Most TVs cost between $500 and $2,000.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were a few branded displays, like a mini in-store Verizon center.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Signs were scattered around the tech section, advertising that BJ’s offers free help from professional tech advisors.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Also near the entrance were shelves of random products like paper plates, snacks, and t-shirts, all for under $15.

BJ's Wholesale sells, well, everything.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

BJ’s snacks were sold in bulk, but the selection was underwhelming. There wasn’t a ton of variety, and there seemed to be more candy than snacks.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were quite a few empty shelves throughout this part of the store. A lot of products were out of stock.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Prices were reasonable on the bulk products: a 3.5-pound box of Cheerios cost $7.99, less than the same product cost on Amazon and only $3 more than a box half the size from Walmart.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Near the food, free samples were being given out.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The store also had a huge selection of drinks sold in bulk, but it looked like a lot of products were running low or out of stock.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The middle of the store was a bit of a guessing game, keeping in line with the “treasure hunt” experience its competitor Costco is known for.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

While the aisles were clearly labeled, there was still a pretty random product assortment. Toys and books were right next to the gardening supplies.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Furniture, batteries, and household products were all over the middle of the store …

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

… and there were plants everywhere.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There was also a small selection of clothes in the middle of the store.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Near the registers, the store had optical and hearing centers that you didn’t need a membership to use.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

It also had a self-checkout lane, which is a huge perk when lines get long.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

There were gift cards near the register, but the selection was pretty small.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

Instead of having a food court like Costco or Sam’s Club, the store had a small Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk by the exit.

source
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

BJ’s locations used to have food courts, but most are being replaced by Dunkin’ Donuts kiosks.