BJ’s opens Kearny club


You may never shop the same way again.

That’s because BJ’s has opened its Kearny location on Passaic Ave., and if Chris Baldwin, CEO of BJ’s, is right, not only will the experience of shopping change — so, too, will the amount of money you spend. And it appears you’ll be spending a lot less — for a lot more.

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, Baldwin led a private media tour of the new club. He did a great job selling the virtues of the company’s 114th store. Among those virtues — the new jobs created by BJ’s.

“The opening of the Kearny club has led to 140 new jobs locally,” Baldwin said as the tour kicked off. “Of the 140 jobs, 23% are Kearny residents.”

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As the tour moved on, Baldwin spoke about how BJ’s is different from other wholesalers, such as Costco or Sam’s Club.

“While our competition prefers customers to come in once a month, we see ourselves as a place where customers will come for groceries — and other things — once a week. And we expect they’ll be able to save about 25% over what they’re used to paying.”

But why would a consumer need to shop at a wholesaler on a weekly basis? Isn’t the idea to buy in bulk and shop less?

Not really, according to Baldwin.

“What sets us apart is our fresh-food offerings,” Baldwin said. “It’s quite different here.”

Indeed it is. The new BJ’s — like others clubs — offers fresh produce, a gigantic, full-service deli and a fresh bakery. During the tour, the produce was being put out for the first time. Just about anything you could imagine is available — from fresh fruits to bagged salads.

The deli offers numerous brands of typical meats and cheeses. One item stuck out, however, during the tour. A pound of Land O’ Lakes yellow American cheese, which normally sells for about $7.99 a pound elsewhere will only run you $3.99 a pound at BJ’s. That was one of numerous items, Baldwin noted, that will cost the consumer quite a bit less.

At the bakery, workers were furiously decorating all kinds of freshly baked cakes. One of the highlights of the bakery, Baldwin says, is that BJ’s can make countless kinds of custom-designed cakes for all occasions.

“It’s things like this that set us apart,” Baldwin said. “We want our members to come out every week — to choose from the freshest, best-priced foods, available.”

Aside from all of the aforementioned, BJ’s also studied the demographics of the Kearny area.

“We knew there would be a demand for Portuguese food and we want the Portuguese community here to know we’re here for them,” Baldwin said.

As such, BJ’s has an ethnic section, where traditional Portuguese sausages, cheeses and more will be available, from the vendors the community wants most. There’s also an extensive Goya section for the Latino community.

More than just food

While much of our tour of the new BJ’s focused on food, there’s so much more than just food at the Kearny location.

At the entrance to the club, one of the first setups is of Apple products. Available were iPads, iPods and iTunes gift cards.

There were GoPro cameras. There were gigantic HDTVs. There were toasters. And there was clothing.

Baldwin said BJ’s sells its clothing differently than most companies because they don’t do it all seasonally. On display were, indeed, shirts and pants for the fall and winter. But unlike other places, where a lot of the summer items like shorts and T-shirts are already off the shelves, there were plenty of summer styles to choose from.

“Consumers can buy ahead for the next season, but they can also buy now, wear now, for the current season,” Baldwin said. “We have what people want when they want it.”

Help for the tech helpless

BJ’s also offers something relatively news. It’s called Tech Advisers.

Let’s say you go into the club and buy a new HDTV. Try plugging it in and turning it on. Chances are it’s not going to do much for you. Since modern technology requires more than just plug-and-play, Tech Advisers will be available for anyone who has made an electronic purchase — and who can’t quite get how to set that TV or iPad up.

“All it takes is a phone call, and the Tech Advisers, who are employees of BJ’s, will be there to guide you on how to get the new equipment working,” Baldwin said.

Why pay for a membership?

So why would a consumer pay $50 to $100 a year to spend money?

That’s simple, too, Baldwin said.

“The savings our members see — usually in their first trip to BJ’s — pays for the membership,” Baldwin said. “Members will see it right away. That’s also why we take great steps to show our members how much they mean to us. They’ve paid to shop here. It’s an absolute privilege to serve them and we want them to know that.”

Not a member? Visit the new store where you can get a membership card in minutes. There are two tiers — $50 for a basic membership — and $100, which offers more cash back on purchases made (see for details).

All in all, the tour of the new BJ’s was quite impressive. Baldwin went out of his way to greet as many new employees as he could. (It was rare to see a high-powered CEO doing this). The offerings at the club are just enormous. And truth be told, if you splurge for a membership — we think you should — chances are you won’t be disappointed.

Baldwin wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Kearny BJ’s is located at 180 Passaic Ave. To get into the place, use the roadway north of the club and just south of K-Mart. (Be careful — if you miss it, there’s no other way to get in). Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. For more details, call the store at 800-278-0230 or visit


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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.