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Nov 17, 2012 11:10 AM

BJ's Wholesale--why do i dread walking in the door??

Against my wishes, my husband got us a membership at a Ct. BJ's.

the place just overwhelms/exhausts me. Other than picking up 6 packs of Goya canned beans, I just haven't really explored.
We're empty nesters, but often have adult children/small grandchildren for extended visits.

Any suggestions? We eat mostly vegetarian, with some meat (try for grassfed beef, pastured eggs milk, etc, wild salmon)

Basically my husband got the BJ's membership because the Whole Foods bills were outrageous.

The atmosphere of BJ's is so weirdly depressing

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  1. I agree about BJ's - we had a membership for a while but let it lapse because of that. I much prefer Costco, and if you have one nearby I'd switch. That said, there are a lot of good buys to be had at BJs, but we'd need more specific information about what you eat/use to help.

    2 Replies
    1. re: biondanonima

      We have a new BJ's near us that is very nice and more like a Costco. Having said that, I had no problem with our other BJs, which is much older. Not sure how to get past the OP's dislike of the atmosphere.

      In any event, I heartily second mojoeater's suggestion -- when you have some time, just walk up and down the aisles and see what they have. For example, our new BJ's has a very large selection of cheeses, hummus, snacky things like that -- perfect for visits from relatives.

      I would also wipe WF from your memory bank -- the chains are so different it's not fair to compare one to the other.

      1. re: Bob W

        I have a shopping trip to BJ's on the schedule for later today. My list includes:
        toilet paper
        dishwasher soap
        cat food

        I buy all my household paper goods there, as well as soap, toothpaste, and other personal and pet care items. None of them go bad so I don't care if I'm buying what amounts to a year's worth of laundry soap at once.

        In terms of perishables and food products I do buy less there than I might at another store. I nearly always get hummus, pickles, bottled water for the office, four, sugar, and butter at BJ's as we go through those pretty quickly. If I'm shopping for a party or other large event, BJ's will be my first choice.

        At least in my area, their gas is by far the cheapest ($0.10 less a gallon last week than other stations). I also use the optical department and get my tires there.

    2. My two staples at BJs are: their brand cat litter 40 lbs for $8.99 (probably doesn't apply) and the case of two Poland Spring jugs (5 gal total) for $4.98. Also cases of individual Perrier when they have a coupon. What really makes it worthwhile for me is the eyeglass dept, I get my contacts there every year and save more than the $50 fee on just that. Their cheeses aren't necessarily cheaper but they have some very good quality ones. Nuts for cooking, and for snacking, are very reasonable. Their bakery dept isn't too bad. Office supplies OK if you use in bulk. I'm also going Black Friday for a HDTV, they don't open til 7 and since you have to be a member, there's not too much of a stampede. But things like paper goods or soap you can probably get at a better deal on sale at the local supermarket (if you do go there?) Their produce dept is pretty good, compared to local places (but I'm not talking Whole Foods).

      I worked in warehouses most of my life so the atmosphere doesn't bother me much. But I guess it's sort of a shock if you're used to Whole Foods. My SIL was the same way with Walmart, but as the economy got worse she seems to have overcome her disgust ;-) They do have samples at lunchtime, if you want to sample the wares.

      1. I agree about the warehouse clubs, whether it be Costco, BJs or Sam's. They just aren't the greatest atmosphere to shop. Whole Foods is beautiful and warm and fuzzy, but the prices are ludicrous. So I would suggest going to BJs when you can spend some real time there. Go down every aisle and get to know the offerings. There are usually some great fish, meat and cheese deals. And of course dried goods are super cheap. Once you get to know the layout and can make your way around with intent and ease, the warehouse places can be a boon.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mojoeater

          I feel the opposite. I love the wide aisles at BJ's, and detest the cramped feeling at Whole Foods.

        2. I had a membership at BJ's and let it lapse. I found no real savings, from regular super markets, and most gas stations in the area beat their prices. I find Costco has higher quality and more organic products at better prices. As far as the sizes of the big box stores, that's what they are but, you'll save a bundle compared to Whole Paycheck!

          6 Replies
          1. re: treb

            I too prefer Costco products, but their aisles are unlabeled, which is a pain. BJ has labeled aisles which makes shopping quicker.

            1. re: greygarious

              That's a good point. Even though I've been going to the same Costco for years, I still have to traipse up and down the grocery aisles to find stuff. I'm sure that's deliberate on their part but it is indeed a pain. At BJ's you know where the canned beans will be.

              1. re: Bob W

                Yes, the unlabeled aisles are by design. I have two friends who work there and they say Costco strategy is to get you to go up and down the aisles because you'll always buy something that wasn't on your list. Evidently it's very effective because I can't leave there without those "extra, must have" items!

                1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes

                  LOL I actually used to read Progressive Grocer magazine. Nothing is by chance in the supermarket.

                  1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes

                    That's true only to a point. As I have told Costco, for people with mobility problems, it means not buying as much as I would if I could easily find things. The longer I am in there, the more pain I'm in. It is not possible for me to browse the aisles. Even with items on my shopping list - if they've been moved since my last visit I will not buy them unless I happen upon them.

                    1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes

                      I call it the Ikea effect, design the store so you have to walk through the whole place before you exit.

              2. I like BJ's for:
                • Flour
                • Sugar
                • oatmeal
                • Cases of water
                • ketchup
                • Bulk cheese
                • Boneless skinless chicken breast
                • (sometimes) lamb or veal
                • Butter
                • Laundry detergent
                • Dishwasher detergent
                • paper towels
                • Toilet paper
                • Cleaning supplies
                • Personal care (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, contact solution)
                • Hard alcohol

                Overall I “break even” after the first or second shopping. Hands down the personal care stuff is the cheapest out there for me. Things like the cleaning supplies, paper towels and toilet paper can occasionally be found cheaper when I take the time to shop the circulars and don’t mind driving around, getting one at one store, another at a different store, etc. The baking stuff is comparable and or cheaper but I do so much baking it’s just plain easier to have the bulk quantity. Though recently they have added more everyday sizes. The food, again, can occasionally be found cheaper if you really do your research. But net/net I considerably save more than save the cost membership each year.

                Couple of key points is that I rarely, if ever throw anything away. I have a food saver and box freezer so I break down a lot of what I buy into more reasonable quantities and vacu-seal/freeze it. I also have the space to store all those cleaning supplies, etc. There are only three of us so we don’t go thru that stuff very fast. I probably only buy the paper goods 3 times a year and the cleaning supplies twice a year. Amy I tying up some of my “cash” in “Inventory”? Maybe but what I am saving overall I wouldn’t