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Strategy Costco rival BJ's Wholesale Club just went public for the second time. Here's what it's like to shop there.

BJ's Wholesale Club, a membership-based warehouse club similar to Costco and Sam's Club, began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. Here's what it's like to shop there.

  • Published:
BJ's Wholesale Club sells, well, everything. play

BJ's Wholesale Club sells, well, everything.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

  • BJ's Wholesale Club 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 began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. It had previously traded publicly until 2011, when a deal with two private-equity firms took it private.
  • We visited a BJ's Wholesale in Jersey City, New Jersey, to see what it was like to shop there.

BJ's Wholesale Club 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 began trading 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.

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

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

(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.

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. play

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.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


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

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

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

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


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

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

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

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


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

play

(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.

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. play

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.

(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.

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

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

(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.

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. play

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.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Near the food, free samples were being given out.

Near the food, free samples were being given out. play

Near the food, free samples were being given out.

(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.

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. play

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.

(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.

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. play

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.

(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.

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

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

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


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

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

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

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


... and there were plants everywhere.

... and there were plants everywhere. play

... and there were plants everywhere.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


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

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

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

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


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

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

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

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


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

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

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

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


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

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

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

(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.

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

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

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)

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



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