We shopped at Sam's Club and BJ's to see which was a better warehouse store, and the winner was clear

Business Insider | Jun 13, 2018, 11.54PM IST

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

A membership at BJ's costs $55 a year.

  • Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale are similar membership-based warehouse clubs that offer a wide variety of products and services.
  • There are quite a few differences between Sam's Club and BJ's, including the presence of a self-checkout option and the lack of a food court at BJ's. BJ's stores used to have food courts, but most are being replaced by Dunkin' Donuts kiosks.
  • I went to a Sam's Club in Westchester, New York, and a BJ's in Jersey City, New Jersey, and found that Sam's Club is less expensive to join and offers more in store.

Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale are membership-based warehouse clubs selling groceries, clothing, furniture, and, well, lots of other stuff.

Both stores offer eye and ear exams, a pharmacy, one-hour photo services, and either a food court or kiosk at affordable prices. Even the return policies are similar, though BJ's stops accepting items after a year, while Sam's Club will do so for most items at any time.

An annual membership is required to shop at both stores. Sam's Club costs $45 for an annual membership, and BJ's costs $55. A premium membership at either store costs $100 or $110 a year, respectively.

After visiting both stores, it seemed like BJ's was struggling to keep up with Sam's Club and the stores' other rival, Costco.

But BJ's is showing some signs of strength. Last month, the warehouse chain filed to go public, with plans to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "BJ." The warehouse chain had previously traded publicly until 2011, when it made a deal with two private-equity firms to take it private, according to CNN Money.

According to a grocery-store ranking from Consumer Reports, Sam's Club and BJ's rank about equally in cleanliness, meat and produce quality, customer service, store-brand quality, and prices of organic items.

BJ's ranked higher than Sam's Club in just two categories: healthy organic options and checkout speed.

To see for myself which store offered the best deals, I went to a Sam's Club in Westchester, New York, and a BJ's in Jersey City, New Jersey. Here's what I found:

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