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Costco or BJs?

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  • Soup Dec 20, 2006 02:03 PM
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I've been a member of Costco for about 8 years now. However, I have never set foot inside a BJ's. I just got a free trial membership to BJ for 60 days and was wondering is there is significant difference between the two? Which is better and why? love to hear your opinions.

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  1. I think Costco wins based on the superior flood court and cleaner and brighter stores.

    The food at BJ's is pre-made and pre-wrapped self service stuff. The food at Costco, while not made to order is not as institutionalized as at BJ's.

    I find Costco to be much more brightly lit and cleaner than BJ's. The BJ's I use are somewhat dank and sad looking inside.

    I also love the seafood events at Costco (shrimp, crab legs, etc). I've never seen that at BJ's.

    If I lived near a Costco, I'd drop BJ's in a minute (though it IS acceptable.

    Thanks,

    Kevin

    1. We don't have a Costco near us so we shop at BJs. Personally, I like it, although I can only compare it to Sam's Club, which is downright awful for more than one reason. The selection is good, the prices are good, we like the meat (I can't wait to get a coffin freezer so I can really stock up) and it's always clean and well-lit.

      You don't need to have a membership to go into the store, you just can't buy anything. I'd suggest going to the store and checking it out. What have you got to lose?

      1 Reply
      1. re: SarahEats

        I think you CAN buy stuff at BJs, but it's marked up 5 or 15%, then if you join they give you a refund.

      2. My 60 day free trial actually just ended. Since we are a household of two, with limited storage space, I didn't find a whole lot that I could take advantage of. I did enjoy the savings on paper towels and jumbo sized bags of snacks and chips for parties. They have limited beer and wine offerings but the savings are good. After your trial membership ends, they will send you offers for $15 off on a yearly membership.

        1. We love Costco, and it really is bigger and better and brighter than BJ's.

          But, Costco is a drive from us, and we happen to have a BJ's only three blocks away. So, with adjustments to be made, we've mostly shopped at BJ's this past year.

          They don't have the range of products, but I've ended up buying a whole lot of staple foodstuffs there - their selections of tomatoes in the summer were better than any market around here, which surprised me; they carry the most exotic potaoes and onions; fresh herbs in abundance, at rock-bottom prices; lovely fruits that move quickly off the shelves; and their meat department is in every way comparable to Costco, I've learned.

          They have a terrific Deli, too, with great sales. And their selection of cheeses is every bit as good as Costco, maybe a bit better.

          I've never gone to BJ's and not found what I wanted. Their prices, by the way, are excellent.

          Their pharmacy will match Costco prices if you have a prescription transferred or called in. Very accomodating, and they'll also special-order OTC stuff for you, like iron supplements that aren't usually found on the shelves of over the most refined drugstores.

          I can't say enough good things about BJ's, although I'm always going to be a Costco member. Give them a lookover and see what you think. You might be surprised.

          1. Personally, I like BJs a lot.

            Advantages over Costco:

            1) Deli is great. Good brands and they allow you to buy by the pound as opposed to buying everything prepackaged.

            2) Good pharmacy. They are very customer oriented.

            3) Prices seem to be lower on the items that I buy often.

            1. Also, at BJs you can use any form of payment. At Costco (at least until recently) it's either cash or Discover card (again, I think they just changed this).

              3 Replies
              1. re: gaiadi

                You're probably thinking of Sam's Club there (they recently added Mastercard, but used to only take Cash, Discover or debit card.)

                1. re: gaiadi

                  Costco only takes American Express.

                  1. re: Bobfrmia

                    Costco will do a PIN-based debit card transaction as well, if you want. But not a regular Visa/MC/Discover "credit" transaction. For credit card your only option is Amex.

                2. Regarding the "values" to be found at BJ's, I think it depends upon where you live. Here in the metro NY suburbs (volume shopping zone USA) they simply don't offer many price values overall in comparison to regular retail stores on standard, everyday items. Shop Rite, for example, one of the most expensive supermarket chains in the region, is often cheaper than BJ's on staples such as toilet tissue, toothpaste, mouthwash. etc. Best Buy and Circuit City have lower everyday prices on DVDs when they are new releases and are rarely more expensive for single films when not new.

                  The deals I've gotten have been for single-purchase items such as a Haier 36 bottle wine chiller that I bought at the lowest price in the US, or the Riedel wine stems I bought for more than 60% off the next lowest price in the US. Both items are no longer available at the BJ's nearest me, but they justified the annual membership fee. Little else does unless you live right down the street from one and happen to use lots of the limited range of products where they truly do offer a better deal.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ecustard

                    I get my contact lenses there and they charge less than my doctor pays for his, wholesale. He couldn't believe it when I told him. Just that covers my membership, doubled.

                    1. re: coll

                      I never thought of getting contacts at BJ's, although I walk right past the Optical Department on my way out.

                      I like this idea. I've been using 1-800-CONTACTS, but I'll surely check out BJ's prices. Thanks for this idea!

                  2. We belong to Costco, BJ's & Sams and shop at all three regularly in 2 different states (FL & NJ), sometimes going to all 3 in one day. Each has it's own good points, but if i could belong to only one, it would definitely be Costco. Better items, bigger selection, cleaner brighter store, but always crowded. Next would be BJ's, then Sams.

                    1. Did I just read a BJ's membership is 15.00?
                      Our Costco mem is 55.00

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: HillJ

                        That $15 is probably a promotional deal, for new members. My membership costs $40.

                      2. I just signed up for my BJs 60 day free trial and looked around. Frankly disappointed. Maybe its the store I visited in Ocean Twp NJ. No pharmacy, no product demos, no seafood, no frozen dinners, very little meat and deli. Produce was expensive and not fresh.
                        At these places you really need to know your prices or you'll pay more than a regular foodstore.
                        If Costco has a free trial membership, I'll look into them.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: tom porc

                          You can go into a Costco to look around. If they sell alcohol, they have to let you in and you can buy if without a card.

                          1. re: justagthing

                            Never known anyone who was not allowed to go in and look around. As far as the alcohol issue, I'm pretty sure that varies from state to state.

                        2. For one year, I had memberships to both BJ's and Costco, and here is what I found:

                          BJ's has a superior selection of cheeses
                          BJ's has a far larger selection of junk food/prepared food--if one is interested in that
                          BJ's accepts manufacturer's coupons

                          Costco has lower prices on electronic goods--as proven by my comparison shopping.
                          Costco has a far superior selection of true gourmet foods.
                          Costco's tire department is clean and has a good selection of premium tire brands--unlike the greasy, grimy tire department at both of the BJ's that I have used. Also, Costco's tire prices are better, despite carrying more upscale tires.

                          So, unless you are very interested in convenience/junk foods, I fail to see much of an advantage to BJ's. While it is true that their cheese selection is superior, the rest of their food offerings are "Wal-Mart oriented", IMHO, while Costco's food offerings tend toward being "Wegman's oriented"--if you know what I mean. Overall, Costco is just a much more satisfying, more classy shopping experience, at least in my area.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                            Costco is excellent for tires. If you need tires you'll likely save your membership fee at least a couple times over in that one transaction. Definitely has justified mine the last couple years (first one car, now the other), as with just two of us in the house and rarely a large item purchase it's pretty marginal to be spending $50/year to shop there.

                            BTW, I found out recently, if you don't renew your membership, then you go back a couple months later and don't want to "lose" those two months, they will switch it for you, but only ONCE in your membership lifetime. So you're supposed to keep paying up continuously for the same renewal date. Just something to keep in mind. If I need to switch a second time, I'll just have my SO sign up from her separate PO Box address. ;-)

                          2. I've found that BJ's has smaller package sizes. I also like that they accept many forms of payment and coupons.

                            I'm a Costco member, but only because it's closer. Thanks for reminding me that I have to use my 60-day trial at BJs.

                            1. You need to check out your local BJ's; it sounds like they vary a lot.

                              We belong to both. Our Costco is newer and closer but the BJ's carries a MUCH larger variety of staple-type products, such as canned fruits, cereals, etc. BJs also has greeting cards at half-price.

                              Our Costco has a superior wine selection with many high end ($100+) bottles) but BJ's wine dept is acceptable. Costco has the better cheeses and meats too.

                              Costco has the edge in produce but BJs just upgraded its produce dept substantially. The bakeries are probably pretty similar. Both stories have great rotisserie chicken for $4.99

                              BJs takes mfr's coupons, Costco does not.

                              So I'd say they both have their pluses and minuses.

                              1. On a purely food basis, Costco over BJ's. But on the overall (okay, I know I am dangerously close to violating the board rules), each one has something a little different to offer. Just depends what you are looking for.

                                1. My Sam's membership is coming due. Recently moved to an area where there are all three. Made a list of the things I buy there most and compared. In this area the Sam's generally was cheapest. Usually by just a few cents, but sometimes by a more significant amount. Costco seems cheaper on gasoline. The BJ's (open about 2 years) was friendlier & better staffed than the Costco. Liked that BJ's would slice deli meat to order. Costco seemed to have a wider selection of varieties of meat & gourmet items. BJ's had more household items (file cabinets, organizers). Costco had much more space devoted to clothing. Sam's has a very nice organic coffee for under $12.
                                  Since it is not a good thing to change my wake-up routine I will probably stay with Sam's rather than risk the consequences of changing the morning cup o joe!

                                  There does seem to be a fair difference in products within the same chain from area to area.