Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Emperor has no Clothes or Shopping at a Warehouse Club

If someone takes a little time, you can find some amazing buys these days.   There are a whole laundry list of specific industry and market websites as well as many general purpose sites that are geared towards finding you the best price on a given item.   Many companies have websites that are designed to be the best in their breed and be better than their competition.   There are companies who make all their money by writing software so that the store can beat their competition by having a better experience for the web shopper.

So why is it that there are still stores that you have to pay to get into when the prices are really not THAT much better than the market price?  Here in South Florida, I have a GFS Wholesale Store nearby.  I shop that place before I go to the slightly more distant BJ's Wholesale club because the quality and some of the prices of the merchandise is better at GFS.  GFS is Free, BJ's costs me $40 to get in the front door.  Costco won't even let you on the sales floor without a card and are quite arrogant about that.   Those cards from what I can see are only there to give the shopper or Member a feeling that they belong to something special that others just can't get into.

Seems to me that I'd feel happier with a kick in the pants.

I have been members at Sam's Club, Costco, and BJ's.   I keep a card at BJ's simply because I can get the dog food there at a slightly better price than other places that I have found in the area.   Their quality is average, and there is a disturbing amount of mediocre "Berkley and Jensen" captive brand merchandise there.  Costco I was wholly unimpressed with and dropped it after a year.   Sam's Club was what I left for BJ's about a decade ago, and did so because it was inconvenient.

So is it worth $40 a year for dog food?  Probably not.   The BJ's on Powerline Road in Ft Lauderdale has Gasoline sold there.   That Gasoline irks me the most.  The thing is that while the local stores were selling gas at $2.61 a gallon the other day, BJ's was at $2.63 a gallon.   I know there is a lot of variance in prices in gas in any given area, but BJ's has this Member Price where you were made to feel special when you pay MORE than the market price.   If you are not a Member, and are there in an emergency (which is highly doubtful) you pay an extra 20 cents a gallon for the privilege of buying gas at a BJ's.   Yes, $2.83 a gallon for gas which was 22 cents a gallon more than the Mobil station just down the road.

Basically there are a very few things that I can't get anywhere else than BJ's but every time I go in there I feel like I've been taken advantage of.   There is another disturbing trend at BJ's with roving window salesmen.   You're in there looking at what ever overpriced item you are considering and some eager young person, and they are always young... ALWAYS, will swoop over to you and start to sell you things that you don't need.

BJ's you are becoming the Tivo of the Wholesale Clubs.  It used to be that you'd pay to get in the door, and feel good because you had higher quality than average merchandise and all was good.   Now you have merely average, mass market merchandise at a giant aircraft hanger of a store, no sales support for "complex items", not enough depth in the selection of the goods, and these annoying sales people wandering around throwing themselves in your path trying to get more money out of you.  Stop it.

Oh and those TV Sets at the end of the aisles with the constantly blaring commercials running really truly need to go away.  Give the sets to a needy school and give us all a break from that incessant advertisement.  I don't feel like a Member, I feel like I'm trying to dodge the homeless on a city street.

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