PROVIDENCE — BJ’s Wholesale Club on Friday will open what it’s calling “BJ’s market,” a new concept store that’s about half the size of a typical BJ’s, in Warwick, R.I.
The store, where the Toys “R” Us used to be on East Avenue, will be the first of its kind for the Westborough, Mass.-based chain of membership warehouse clubs. BJ’s market will emphasize its fresh offerings and daily shopping needs, while skipping out on some of the general merchandise – you won’t see the guy loading a flat-screen TV into his SUV in the parking lot, or buying a 12-pack of denim jeans, but it’s the place to go if you need toilet paper and some snacks to send your kids to school.
“This is our lunch box club,” said Peter Frangie, BJ’s vice president for communications. “It’s helping meet the daily needs of our members. When you think about warehouse stores, a lot of people will shop weekly or monthly. This is to support our member families with their daily needs.”
It will become the 228th BJ’s location when it opens at 8 a.m. Friday BJ’s stores now range from Maine to Florida and as far west as Michigan. People who already have memberships don’t need to sign up for anything different and can start shopping there right away, Frangie said. It will have the same pack sizes and prices as a typical BJ’s, with some smaller offerings, Frangie said.
The 43,000-square-foot facility will be a little less than half the size of a typical BJ’s store. About 100 people will work at BJ’s market, Frangie said, a smaller number than the typical 150 at a full-size wholesale location.
The store will also put more emphasis on some of the innovations that came about during the COVID-19 pandemic, like being able to scan and pay for your own items with a cellphone app. The store will have a dedicated lane for people to check out that way, as well as more dedicated space for curbside pickup, Frangie said.
It will also have a tasting bar, a collection of free items for people to try. People who shop at the Warwick location will help determine what works and what doesn’t work, Frangie said, describing it as an “innovation lab” for the whole BJ’s empire.
“We’re thinking about, what do our members need?” Frangie said. “What areas haven’t we addressed?”
BJ’s also has locations in Coventry, R.I., and in Johnston, R.I., and Seekonk, Mass., just over the border from East Providence. A main competitor, Costco, doesn’t currently have locations in Rhode Island.