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Why BJ’s Wholesale Club refuses to open on Thanksgiving


This year, it seems that you can’t turn on the TV or read the news without seeing that another store is opening on Thanksgiving. Some believe Black Friday is fading away as more retailers choose to open early to compete with other shopping options such as online sales. I don’t think that Black Friday is going away, but I do think that it is evolving to best serve the needs of the consumer. Any retailer that is going to be successful long-term has to evolve, too. In fact, at BJ’s Wholesale Club for the first time this year, we are changing our Members’ Black Friday shopping experience by offering early Black Friday deals across a whole week — Nov. 24-Dec. 1, except for Thanksgiving of course, when the clubs will be closed.

Every retail organization does what it believes will create a great holiday sales season. And BJ’s is certainly no exception. In fact when I think about creating that positive sales season, I consider two very important audiences: members and team members.

We know our members very well. We know they appreciate the value of membership. Value can be defined many different ways. Some look at it as a monetary measurement, others consider value to mean something that is of high quality and still others equate value to a standard of behavior. At BJ’s, the value is we offer is actually a combination of all three. BJ’s is a business, after all, and we strive to offer the highest-quality goods at great prices, and that is overlaid with how we act as a company. And I strongly believe that BJ’s definition of value aligns with that of our members, who care about family, friends and community. They won’t have the added pressure of shortening their Thanksgiving holiday to seek the best deals at BJ’s.

The other important audience that I mentioned is our team members. As CEO of BJ’s, part of my job is helping the company balance what is best for our team members with our sales goals. In any BJ’s Club, you will find lots of great merchandise including natural and organic foods, the latest electronics, toys, holiday decorations and household goods galore, but that is just “stuff.” What makes BJ’s Wholesale Club exceptional is its nearly 26,000 team members. BJ’s team members make the clubs a place at which people want to shop.

Every team member has a part in creating the member experience: the brand, the value and the delight that is shopping at BJ’s Wholesale Club. Whether in the club or in the distribution centers or even in the home office, it is the hands and hearts of all our team members that ultimately deliver on our promise of membership. As I have told our team members, we are a company of ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

So when I am fortunate enough to sit down with my friends and family for a scrumptious Thanksgiving feast on Thursday, Nov. 28, I will be thankful for the many blessings, including the people surrounding my table, and also for BJ’s members and team members, who I hope are also sitting around a Thanksgiving feast with those who they care about most.

Laura Sen has been president and CEO of BJ's Wholesale Club since Feb. 2009. Sen was president and chief operating officer of the wholesale club from Jan. 2008 to Feb. 2009, and was EVP of merchandising and logistics from Jan. 2007 to Jan. 2008.

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