I used to have a wholesale store membership, but finally let the membership expire when I had 3 packs of 24 rolls of paper towels in my garage. Every time I went to the store, I kept thinking “Wow! These are amazing prices – I have to stock up. Besides…paper towels don’t go bad.” Net result – 2 packages of paper towels in the garage and another stash hidden away in the pantry, underneath the bathroom sink, and others in various cabinets around the house. In other words – paper towels up the wazoo. So with so many paper towels, when it came time to renew, I decided to call it quits with wholesale retailers. Recently, I was asked to visit BJ’s Wholesale to see the savings and quality of items that they have in the store. Even though I still have 2 package of paper towels not opened yet, I figured I would give BJ’s a shot.
After visiting their website, I discovered that the nearest BJ’s was a 40 minute drive away (eek!) Fortunately, one of my friends was generous enough to keep my company. So with directions in hand, we started the drive up and actually made it up there in about 30 minutes.
When I walked up to the Member Service desk to pick up my free 60-day trial membership, the customer service representative proceeded to tell me about all of the benefits of becoming a member – exclusive coupons, money-back guarantees, online-shopping, etc. She really wanted to make sure I understood all of the member benefits of BJs. If you’re interested in learning about them, feel free to stay and ask questions, but if you’re interested in just shopping, a very firm “No, thank you” should do the trick. Other than that, the membership process is fairly standard and they give you a membership card:
So with my new membership card in hand and the cart ready to go, my friend and I were ready to journey through the BJ’s Wholesale Club aisles. One thing that stood out to me was how much brighter and open the store seemed in comparison to other warehouse stores. I’m not sure if there was just better lighting, shorter shelving, wider aisles, fewer people or all of the above. Whatever the cause, the end result is that I didn’t feel as cramped in as I sometimes do in other stores.
But let’s get to the reason any of us would go to BJ’s Wholesale in the first place – the prices. Here’s a comparison of a few items I bought (or noted the price of) along with the prices listed online at safeway.com and peapod.com (as of 12/19/09.)
|Item||BJ’s Price||Safeway Price||Giant Price|
|Old El Paso Soft Taco Dinner Kit
|Dannon DanActive Drinkable Yogurt||$10.99/24 bottles=
|Scrubbing Bubbles Shower Cleaner Refill||$12.99/4=
|Welch’s White Grape Juice||$6.39/2x64oz=
|ReaLime Lime Juice||$1.99/15oz =
|Dutch Country Potato Bread||$3.89/2 loaves =
|Snuggle Dryer Sheets||$6.99/230 ct =
|$4.99/70 ct =
|$4.99/80 ct =
|Glad Sandwich Bag||$6.99/460 =
|Air Wick Scented Oil Refills||$9.99/6 =
|TOTALS||$92.48||$133.63 (does not include Taco kit)||$151.27|
|Price Difference||—||$41.15 more||$58.79 more|
|Electronics & Entertainment Items|
|Harry Potter DVD||$16.99||$14.99||$19.99|
|Julie & Julia DVD||$18.99||$16.99||$19.99|
|Avatar Wii Game||$44.99||$46.99||$49.99|
|Nikon COOLPIX L20 Digital Camera||$89.99||$81.46||$89.99|
|Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Coffee Maker||$29.99||$32.57||$35.00|
|Price Difference||$6.05 less||$14.01 more|
As you can see, when it comes to the food and cleaning items, BJ’s offers the lowest price between the three stores. For some items, I do wonder if there might be ways to get the price even lower. For example, I know sometimes Safeway has a 2/$5 deal on the 64oz Tropicanas, which would then bring their total price per gallon to $5.00 ($0.29 less) but then you’d have to time your purchase or make a separate trip which would cost more money in gas than you would save.
When it comes to the entertainment or electronics, that’s a little iffy. In some cases, BJ’s may have the lower price, but Amazon.com offers very competitive, and sometimes lower, prices in those areas. I’d recommend price checking with other stores before heading to BJ’s to make sure you pick up the best deal.
I did notice a couple of other things at my local BJ’s that really made it stand out from other wholesale retailers.
- They seem to offer a wider name brand selection. There were three or four different types of Bounty paper towels to choose from at BJ’s as opposed to one or two plus the wholesaler’s own brand. They had practically an entire aisle of Glad bags, which was pretty cool too.
- I learned from the customer service rep that BJs accepts manufacturers coupons. That’s a great value add for the coupon clippers out there.
- Self-checkout line! Need I say more?
- No lines at all. I’m not sure if it was the time of day (Monday afternoon) or if I was just lucky, but there was no wait when we checked out.
- Easy to access boxes. You know how some other stores will walk through and collect the boxes left in the fridges and freezers and then squirrel them away somewhere? BJ’s has a big cart out in front where you can pick and grab the boxes that you want to use to help carry your products.
Ultimately, I was very impressed with the prices that BJ’s offers. When buying in bulk, there’s a clear price advantage to buy at BJ’s Wholesale Club. Here’s a shot of the final shopping cart as we left BJ’s. For the record – those are NOT my paper towels!
If you would like to give BJ’s a try, now is your chance! They are offering a free 60 day trial membership if you sign up before 12/31/09. If you choose to extend your trial to a full membership, then you can take advantage of their new special-member paid offer. This varies by store but can include a $10 coupon book, 2 extra months of membership, a member savings book, and extra card, and additional coupons at the special rate of $45.
In addition, we are offering an opportunity for you to win a $25 BJ’s gift card in the WCatDD BJ’s Wholesale Club Giveaway!
One winner will receive a $25 BJ’s Gift Card
This giveaway is closed.
Disclaimer: This post consists of my (and/or fellow tester) opinions only. No compensation was given for this review/giveaway. I did receive a free trial membership, gift card, coupons and information from BJ’s Wholesale Club and General Mills through MyBlogSpark to use and test for the purposes of this review. This did not affect the outcome of this review.