Right before the holidays I was given the opportunity through Blog Spark to get a 3 month trial membership to BJ's. I am just about at the end of the trial membership so I thought I would share my findings with you:
The first time I went to BJ's, I didn't buy anything. Instead, I simply wrote down all of the items that I would normally purchase and their prices (Note, I left my kids home for this endeavor :) Then I went over to my favorite shopping store, which is Publix, and compared the prices. I then compared BJ's with Publix. In addition, I took the items that I know are quite often buy one get one free and compared that sale price with BJ's, my results surprised me quite a bit.
I found that on the basic staple items: orange juice, milk, butter, and eggs that BJ's was significantly cheaper even then when I find the items on sale at Publix. However, I was disappointed because even though they carried my brand of Orange Juice (my family is very orange juice specific) they didn't carry any orange juice with pulp in it which just won't fly in my family. And I found that even though the milk was cheaper it was not antibiotic and hormone free so it also wasn't an option for my family. The eggs and butter were definitely a pretty significant savings as well.
Meat was definitely cheaper here than at a grocery store without sales; however I found that Publix offers the same prices when the item is on sale. For instance, every 6-8 weeks Publix has chicken breasts for $1.99 a pound but is normally $3.99 a pound. BJ's is always $2.99. So, if you can utilitze the concept of stock piling you can do better at Publix; however for the convience of purchasing what you want when you want BJ's is a terrific option.
Because I don't purchase a lot of pre-packaged foods there wasn't a lot of savings to be found on a normal basis; however I did find that for large parties (which we seem to have a fair amount) their sheet cakes and drinks and chips can save almost enough to justify the membership fee alone.
I was super excited that they will take coupons...as it allowed me to score some pretty good deals. For instance they had Welch's sparkling cider priced at 4 for $6.99 and we had those $2/2 coupons online right before Christmas, which means I got 4 bottles for $2.99!!
In summary: At first, I was not overwhelmed with the amount of savings. And I was fairly disappointed in the fact that many of the specific items I purchase on a regular basis were not available there. I can do better stockpiling when things are on sale. However, when looking at all of the information, overall, on those occasions when I need to purchase items and I haven't planned well enough or it is last minute BJ's has a lot of savings to offer.
The fact that they also have a gas station which is almost always $.03 or more cheaper combined with the fact that they accept coupons I have decided to go ahead and purchase a full membership for the year which is $45. My thought is that, especially with having a new baby this upcoming May, that although my intentions are to never shop without coupons & always stockpile, life sometimes gets in the way and BJs will allow me to still save money.
In conjunction with this BJ's shopping experiment, BlogSpark has graciously given me a $25 gift certificate to BJ's that I can offer one lucky winner!!
Win one: One lucky reader will win a $25 gift certificate to BJ's.
To enter: Leave me a comment telling me what item you would love to stock up on at BJ's.
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Please remember to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win. Leave a comment for each separate entry. This contest ends January 19, 2009 at Midnight. A winner will be chosen using Random.org and will be contacted via email. This giveaway is open to US residents.
Full Disclosure: I received a 3 month trial membership and a $25 gift certificate for writing this review. Free trial membership, gift card, information and giveaway have all been provided by BJs Wholesale Club, General Mills and MyBlogSpark. The statements above are my honest feelings, but represent only that, my feelings and opinions!