BJ's Puts Detroit Grocers on Notice

BJ's Puts Detroit Grocers on Notice
BJ's Wholesale Club's Taylor, Mich., location is set to open Nov. 19. A location in Madison Heights, Mich., will open Nov. 2.

Food retailing competition is heating up in the Detroit area where BJ’s Wholesale Club is slated to make its market entry next month. The $13 billion operator of 217 membership warehouses is scheduled to open its first location in Taylor on Nov. 19 and a second location in Madison Heights on Nov. 2. A third location in Chesterfield Township is planned for early next year.

BJ’s is appealing to prospective members unfamiliar with its brand of retailing by touting 25% off grocery store prices, low gas prices and key differences relative to Sam’s Club and Costco such as a larger assortment of fresh food, smaller pack sizes and acceptance of manufacturer coupons.

The Detroit entry is a big deal for BJ's. The company hasn't entered a major new market in 20 years and it is primarily known for its presence along the east coast of the U.S. To compensate for lack of awareness in Detroit, the company has been running an aggressive and humorous ad campaign and pre-opened its gas stations in October to help with new member sign ups.

BJ's is not the only retailer beefing up its presence in the Detroit-area market. Meijer opened an urban-format store, Woodward Corner Market, outside of Detroit in Royal Oaks, Mich., earlier this year. This is one of six smaller urban locations that the grocer plans to open by 2021.

Kroger has invested in upgrading its Michigan division stores and in June it opened a new 606,000-square-foot warehouse, referred to as the Michigan Fresh Center, in Romulus, Mich., outside of Detroit. 

Headquartered in Westborough, Mass., BJ’s currently operates 217 warehouse club stores and 141 BJ’s Gas locations in 16 states.

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