Tour: BJ's Wholesale Club - Quakertown, Pennsylvania

 Broken Dreams of the '90s

Volume 1

 Welcome to Broken Dreams of the '90s, the first "column" for posts on a Sunday! Instead of releasing A&P-related content every weekend, I'll switch back and forth between these "columns". I have 5,975 photos in my camera roll (the majority of them photos of stores) that are ready to be released. So let's start it off...
 BJ's (short for Berkeley and Jensen, also their store brand) opened its first store in 1984, a heated time for retail. Wal-Mart was making its first traces into the Northeast, Target was prepping for a rolling growth into the nineties, and A&P aired its infamous We Built a Proud New Feeling commercial.
 BJ's "Clubs" are open to the public, but they require a $45/year membership to purchase anything, from meats to clothes to glasses from the optical department. The products are mostly sold in cases packed specifically for the wholesale clubs nowadays; however, it used to be true wholesale products when the first BJ's, Costco, and Sam's Clubs opened in the eighties.
 BJ's of Quakertown opened in 2007 after being the first extension on the new economical hub in the bustling Quakertown, Pennsylvania; called Richland Marketplace after the nearby Richland Township. 
 Merchandise is presented on no-frills warehouse shelving in its original pallet wrapping, as well as large work lighting, exposed ceiling framework, and roughly-polished concrete.
 A late addition to BJ's stores in the late nineties (as the chain began its descent into retail Valhalla) was the addition of produce, deli, and full-service meat departments. Ironically, the brush script used is as old as the concept. Unironically, the produce, bakery, and deli are nowhere near wholesale prices.

 Meats are ganging up on the dairy cases here, which is a rarity in any supermarket, let alone any store. 
 BJ's stores are around the size of a modern-day Walmart Supercenter.
This is the point in the tour that I take a step back and realize just how terrible this decor is. Then again, I also stepped back and realized just how awesome this concept was... for soccer moms. In the 1990s.
 This store was dead for a Saturday morning, which is the prime shopping time for all families. Were they stuck in the nineties? Only the supermarket associates with checkout lines backing up into the aisles will know.

Sadly, this store lost its Uno Pizza Cafe last year in an interesting turn of events. It's like an ACME losing its pharmacy: an undeniable sign of souring business.

There's quite literally no point to stores like this anymore. Products aren't getting much cheaper than regular stores here at BJ's, nobody wants to pay $45/year on anything except Amazon Prime, and nobody needs a metric ton of Tide anymore. 

Ironically, I say this as a god-fearing, BJ's membership-holding, man.

P.S.: But in all seriousness, I hope BJ's succeeds in some way. If they find some sliver of the retail market to grab at, they'll succeed for the next thirty years. Right now, their stores are so outdated and overpriced (for a wholesale club) on certain items that it may cause their downfall. Similar to A&P's big problem that lead them to bankruptcy, you NEED to have clean and presentable stores.

That's all for this opinion piece, folks. 


  1. Though the deli prices might not be wholesale, they are (at least here) quite a bit less than the supermarket pricing (like $2-3 per pound lower).

    And, unlike most of the store, you can get as much (or little) as you want there, as they will slice it for you in any quantity.

  2. I'm not sure how exactly BJ's is doing. Their membership is cheaper than Costco and they're still expanding, mostly westward into Michigan and such. We used to belong to their clubs, and while they weren't as special as Costco, they were still good enough at times.

    On a related note, I highly doubt other warehouse clubs are sagging to Amazon because of their format. Costco is one of the healthiest retailers around, and they continue to expand to this day.


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