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In-Store Experience: BJ’s Wholesale Club

The expanding chain offers plenty of brand opportunities while distinguishing itself from its channel rivals.

Marlborough, Massachusetts-based BJ’s Wholesale Club is the third largest warehouse club chain in the U.S., operating 244 clubs and 175 BJ’s Gas locations across 20 states (as of March 7).

The first BJ’s club opened in New England in 1984. It remained unique to the East/Southeastern Coast up until the early 2000s, when it expanded into parts of the Midwest, (i.e., Ohio, Michigan and Indiana). More recently, BJ’s expanded further in the South, opening clubs in Tennessee and Alabama for the first time in 2023, while also continuing to grow its footprint in existing territories. In early 2025, BJ’s plans to open its first Kentucky location in Louisville. 

BJ’s clubs range in size from 44,000-177,000 square feet, usually based on how dense/populated a market is, though the typical size is around 100,000 square feet. The clubs carry a notably slimmer product selection compared to supermarkets or supercenters, roughly 7,000 SKUs, comprising both brand name and private-label items. 

BJ’s clubs offer two divisions: grocery and general merchandise/services. Grocery makes up about 85% of the retailer’s annual sales, while general merchandise and services (e.g., small appliances, TVs, electronics, seasonal goods, etc.) make up about 15%. 

The Path to Purchase Institute recently visited a few BJ’s locations in Florida. The clubs offer ample fresh foods and produce, a full-service deli, household essentials and pet supplies as well as a selection of local products. 

While most clubs follow a similar format, they do differ from Costco and Sam’s Club. For instance, the retailer sells 50% more fresh food per member each year than its channel rivals. It also heavily promotes its food and household offerings in an effort to compete more directly with supermarkets. 

BJ’s also has enhanced its product assortment in recent years after reinventing its fresh offerings in 2022. The retailer also made moves to drive own-brands penetration and expand into high-demand categories, including better-for-you snacks, fitness, recreation and seasonal products.

Also, unlike channel rival Sam’s Club, pallet skirts are still very prevalent in BJ’s stores. (Sam’s banned pallet base wraps in 2018 due to low ROI.) Many BJ’s pallets are also typically slightly shorter than a traditional 52-inch pallet to stack a larger variety of products.

BJ’s also generally accepts more manufacturer-supplied P-O-P materials than Sam’s Club and Costco, including pallet displays/skirts, stanchion signs, shelf trays, demonstration/sampling kits, neckhangers, take-one dispensers, wall banners, floorstands and inflatables. 

One popular and plentiful space for brands to take over are display rolling racks positioned on the side of endcaps, facing the aisle, usually coupled with a branded sign and shelf trays/cases. These spots are often used as secondary merchandising space, usually stocking a smaller number of SKUs, and sometimes featuring account-specific signage. 

Some account-specific displays also depict QR codes linking to branded sites or, including one spotted during our visit from General Mills’ Blue Buffalo that linked to a product video via a BJ’s QR code.

There are not only rolling racks, but sometimes other displays, including one permanent co-branded metal display rack by BJ’s and Procter & Gamble’s Gillette stocking Gillette razors with branded shelf trays and signs.

Additionally, in-aisle merchandising space can be used to showcase out-of-box products next to boxed SKUs.

BJ’s also runs routine retailer-led promotions incorporating brand involvement and account-specific activations in stores, providing an opportunity to dangle savings to members.

In other 2023 activity, BJ’s teamed with Simbe Robotics to roll out the tech company’s Tally inventory analysis robots chainwide. The robot’s cameras and AI roam the stores and collect real-time data, ensuring products are stocked, shelved correctly and priced accurately.

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