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6 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-BJ's Wholesale Club Employees

Workers say there are some things you need to know before spending money at the warehouse store.

Just because Costco and Sam's Club seem to dominate the warehouse shopping world doesn't mean they're the only options. Plenty of customers still choose to make their way to BJ's Wholesale Club for their groceries, electronics, and daily necessities, with 245 locations across 18 states, according to ScrapeHero. In many ways, the store operates similarly to its competitors, right down to free product samples for shoppers perusing the aisles. But according to workers, there's still plenty you don't know about the bulk retailer. Read on to see the warnings current and ex-BJ's Wholesale employees have for shoppers.

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You can overdo it on the free samples if you're not careful.

woman taking food samples in the grocery store

No matter what you've come to the store to buy, no shopper is immune to the temptation of free food and drink samples. The tables are a deft marketing move to take advantage of hungry customers with a tasty morsel that's all but impossible to turn down. And while basic manners teach us it's best not to go overboard on the complimentary bites of food, some shoppers have no qualms about going wild.

"There is no limit on how many samples you can take: you can keep coming back for more," BJ's Wholesale Club sample employee furryfarrell posted in a Reddit AMA. "Most people don't care how many you take as long as you don't stand there and keep eating the samples off the tray as soon as we put them down."

"But I am allowed to stop someone when I want," they clarify, adding that in some cases, customers "haven't walked off with the whole tray, but they stand there and eat all my samples."

Some customers aren't allowed samples without special permission

A close up of a BJs Wholesale sign
Shutterstock / debra millet

The sample tables may be some of the most popular areas of any given warehouse store as peckish customers look for a mid-shop snack. But even though the company maintains a reasonably lax limit policy on how much each person can eat, it's technically not a free-for-all for all guests.

"Our only big rule is any child under 13 has to have their parents give me the OK," furryfarrell explained in another reply. "It's [because of] reliability and allergies."

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Safeway Employees.

They're watching you as you walk out the door.

exterior of a BJ's Wholesale Club
Helen89 / Shutterstock

BJ's might be the destination for your bulk groceries and everyday items, but food and necessities are far from the only things they sell. Like Costco, the wholesale retailer also carries expensive goods like electronics and other items. And as with their competitors, this has made them careful to avoid any potential shoplifting situations.

In a Reddit AMA, former BJ's Wholesale Club employee cordscords said this is why the store puts a hole punch in each receipt as each customer walks out.

"Potential shoplifters have to stop and interact with the front door [employee, and it] could make them think twice about stealing something," they explain. "Also, without a hole punch, someone can buy something, show the receipt, and leave. Then later they could return, pick up what was on the receipt again, and try to walk out of the store showing the same receipt that they had before. The hole punch makes it clear that the transaction is final."

You're wasting your time looking for the best deals in the wrong places.

A closeup of shopping carts from BJ's Wholesale Club
Shutterstock / Lawrence Glass

Part of the allure of wholesale stores like BJ's is the fantastic deals you can find throughout the store. Usually, even the bulk discount can be enough to justify the cost of an annual membership. But if you're looking for the best savings, experts say you might be wasting time in some areas.

Your best bet for bee-lining it toward the biggest bargains is sticking to the end caps of the aisles at stores, according to The Smart Shopper. Middle aisles tend to hold other impulse buys that may not be the best deal compared to what's available on the outskirts. Nevertheless, this can be a great way to bargain shop on the fly if you're aimlessly perusing.

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Be mindful of when you order curbside pickup.

the outside of a BJ's store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a busy time for wholesale retailers like BJ's, which provided bulk items that could limit the number of store runs families had to make during a frightening time. Now, even as the threat of the virus has somewhat diminished, features like curbside pickup have been made permanent services by the company. But while it can be a significant time saver, some employees warn that it might not always work as smoothly as you hope.

"From my experience, Fridays and weekends are the worst days to order, and during those days, it is significantly more likely your order will be late," one BJ's worker posted in a Reddit threat. "If you must order on one of those days, order a bit earlier than you need or intend to pick it up, and make sure to wait for the email saying the order is ready."

You're missing out on major sample perks if you don't time your visits right.

A BJ's Wholesale Club road sign
Shutterstock / Alan Budman

No matter how many bites or sips you get, the samples you get during a BJ's run are always a big perk. But according to some employees, you can end up walking away with a lot more than just a nibble if you happen to catch a shift change.

"Sometimes, if people are like me, about five or 10 minutes before we leave the floor, we hand out wholes to finish off the box. Especially things that come into individual containers like Monster and Italian Ice Pops," furryfarrell said in their Reddit AMA.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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