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Bi-Mart: Members Only!

Since we started working on the house about two weeks ago, We’ve been shopping at the Bi-Mart on Woodstock. We liked supporting a local, employee-owned company, and they were well set up for the things we needed. Every few days, we would enter through the main doors (pay attention, this is important) and do our shopping.

Yesterday, we were in the market for a few small waste baskets. We walked through the usual entrance, and were verbally accosted.

Awful woman behind a counter to our right: “Do you have your membership cards on you?”

Us: “Huh?”

AWBACTOR: “You came in the back door, so can I see your cards?”

Us: “We need a membership?”

AWBACTOR: “Since the store has been open.”

Us: “We’ve been shopping here for two weeks!”

AWBACTOR: *shrugs* “You’ll need a membership card.”

Us: “We could shop somewhere else.”

AWBACTOR: “You could get a membership.”

Us: “You could bite me.”

Okay, Spousal Unit said that last bit, but I was sure as hell thinking it. She sneered at us as if we were criminals who had snuck in the back door. I’ll go back and look at those welcoming double-doors that open automatically, but the fact that I have to says that either it’s not marked, or it’s marked very inadequately. Apparently there’s a front door to the right, which I’ve never even noticed. And membership only? No clue. No signs anywhere. No mention from the cashiers. I guess we were supposed to realize this by osmosis.

Finally, the employee who stopped us was just nasty–which is why we got nasty back. In fact, SU’s only regret is that we didn’t get meaner by asking for her manager and raising a big ol’ stink rather than just being flip and walking away.

It’s a shame, because we will never, ever again shop at this local business. If AWBACTOR been the least bit nice to us, we might have signed up for a membership. I don’t like membership-only stores, and I don’t see the advantage at Bi-Mart, but we might have done it just to support them. As it is, Fred Meyer will do nicely.

12 Responses to Bi-Mart: Members Only!

  1. spousal unit says:

    I also rather regret being rude, because it’s almost always more effective to return rudeness with cool civility. One should only be rude in order to go for the funny.

    What I should have done is ask to see the sign. “What sign?” Why, the sign that tells me I have to be a member to shop here; and for that matter, the sign telling me that the smaller entrance is actually the main one. Come to think of it, I’d like to see the sign that entitles you to be rude to me. No such notice posted? Then I’d better speak to your boss.

    Sadly, though, I’m an asshole, so the fast and nasty reply nearly always makes it out of my mouth before my brain catches on to what’s happening.

  2. spousal unit says:

    Found out what the membership is for: see here, where one of the listed “advantages” of membership is that “Bi-Mart provides members with direct in-home advertising.”

    Gee, I can’t wait to get all that direct mail from every corporation you do business with! And to think, I only paid $5 for the membership that enables all these advertisers to contact me!

    Sneaky bastards.

  3. RM says:

    The $5 one time charge is minimal and the card I got at the Hillsboro store almost 20 years ago is still good today.

    In the 70’s membership stores were more popular than they seem today. However, we still have Sam’s Club, Price Club, Costco, etc. These larger, national stores offer good values if you’re willing to purchase large amounts (24 rolls of TP for example).

    In my experience, Bi-Mart offers good values in most areas (inexpensive clothing, hardware, household/kitchen items) and is certainly competitive with Target and K-mart. The mailing is a monthly coupon book of price reductions/sales, not particularly obnoxious. Bi-Mart does sponsor a number of local community events (fairs, rodeos, etc.) and offers discount tickets for them.

    Anyway, the employee should have been more pleasant when questioning you. You may want to consider giving them another chance.

  4. Cat says:

    Hm. Here’s the thing: if I purchase a membership, I expect a pretty good return on it. I’m not just giving up $5, I’m giving up all my marketing information, which Bi-Mart would undoubtedly sell. That’s very valuable to me. Also, a montly coupon book may not seem obnoxious to you, but it is to me.

    There just aren’t any incentives for me to sign up (I’m not the type to use discount tickets to local events), and at least one dis-incentive. That’s not counting the subject of the original post.

    *shrugs*

    Maybe some day, but truly, why bother? They are a galaxy away from making it worth even my time.

  5. Bren says:

    What a suck experience. Our local bimart has been a little better, though I don’t notice a huge price differential on most things. The coolest thing about bimart (ours, anyway) is that on Tuesdays they have a kind of sweepstakes where they give away tons of free stuff based on your member number. If your member number ends with a certain digit, you win stuff. If you hold one of a half dozen specific member numbers, you win really big stuff (tv’s, bbq’s, etc). Cheap, trashy fun. 🙂

  6. Cat says:

    Hee. I’m afraid I’m with Jared (or at least what I think he would say) on giveaways–AHHH! NOT MORE STUFF! 🙂

  7. john says:

    That sucks. yeah you should have talked to that employee’s manager so that she could have been given her walking papers. I love the Woodstock BiMart. As far as I know the only marketing they do is with their little booklet. I know because I intentionally mispelled my name when I signed up. That way any marketing that comes to my house with that spelling, I know where it came from.

    I guess the main reason I like the store though, is because it is within walking distance.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I am a BiMart customer in Eugene. . .It is locally owned and handy and usually has good wine prices and selection.

    I would love to see you talk to the management of your local BiMart and share your experience. It is hard to imagine that you got into that store as many times you did without flashing your green card.

    But it’s simple to sign, up, and very, um, untechie. . no shopping records are kept with those cards. . I think it’s just a way for the company to have a little extra capital.

    (What prescriptions I do get are gotten at BiMart also although you can walk up to the outside window for those without a card.)

    The quality of stuff is average and the prices are are average but it’s convenient AND locally, employee owned, and I will never ever set foot in a WalMart, so it fits for me.

    I think you just got a shitty employee on a bad day, there. . .

    On preview, as far as advertising. . you’ll just be getting a coupon book a couple times per year . .that’s it. .it is very mom-and-pop feeling. . .

  9. Bill says:

    Well I have a slightly different perspective on Bi-Mart. I’m an employee. I’m an assistant manager. First I want to extend an appology to Cat & spousal unit: the employee they encountered did not handle the situation in a very “Bi Mart” fashion. What I tell all my incoming employees is honestly we don’t _beat_ many prices . . . there is just no way we can match the volume of the big chains. The ONLY way we stay successful is to beat the other guys in customer service pure and simple.

    I do have to field a few complaints such as yours throughout the year but they are out numbered 10 to 1 by the comments that customers love us. I too would recomend perhaps talking to the manager. At the very least he/she could remind the staff of the importance of treating customers right.

    To address a few specifics of your comment tho. The big “exit” doors that you came in through are supposed to be set so that they only open when some body approaches from the inside, I’m not sure why they opened when you approached from the outside. At all the stores I have been in there are big red “exit” decals on these doors. I have not been to the Woodstock store. Second and you gotta trust me on this, We are awfully low tech and honestly we are not set up to sell your info even if we wanted to. This is a huge joke at the stores the member info is mostly kept in the file drawers at the lobbys but mostly because stuffing it in a sock and burying it is not to handy! Also we do have a pledge that we do not and will not sell our customer info. Lastly the card its self. I too have asked why the card. The reasons are: 1. The $5.00 lifetime covers a small fraction of the costs of advertising. 2. It allows us to build good customer sentiment thru our Lucky Number Tuesday giveaways. (today at my store if your card ended in 1 you got 6 hershey bars and one of our customers walked away with a $60 cookware set) 3. Tradition. Personally I dont get to picky about people showing their card I would rather have them shop with us but I do ask because I feel guilty for the 75-80% of the folks that will dig thru their entire purse or wallet before even thinking about coming in.

    Lastly I want to mention the benefits of shoping at a locally owned store. First and for most, The money you spend directly benefits your community in terms of wages. As well Bi-mart strives to be a good corporate citizen. You will find that Bi-Mart sponsors most county fairs in Oregon, along with local sports teams from AAA baseball to coligiate sports through out the Northwest. We are one of the biggest corporate donors to the United Way employees and the company both pitch in. We really try to be members of the community.

    So Please please please give us another shot. I think that if you can forgive us for that one rude employee you’ll find there are a lot of reasons to shop with us!!

    PS e-mail me if you want I’d love to change your mind. (thats if you havent already because then if I did change your mind again you’d not want to (hee hee))

  10. Cat says:

    Bill–

    You are the second member of Bi-Mart management with whom we’ve been wholly impressed. If we ever overcome the sheer embarrassment involved in walking back into that store, we may give Bi-Mart another try. We really do like to support local businesses.

  11. spousal unit says:

    And when Cat says “we” in connection with the embarrassment, she means me. It wasn’t my cool-headed wife who told a middle aged woman to “bite me”. Nice one, hard man.

    As Cat says, the management has made up for the AWBACTOR; the bloke who wrote to me after I filled out a response form on the website was very reasonable and pleasant. And you are preaching to the choir about local businesses, Bill. So no promises, but I will try to get past my embarrassment, and get a membership.

  12. lee says:

    I too hope that you will give us another chance.I am also an employee of Bimart(26yrs this august)and am sorry for the bad experience you had.That is not the norm and is not and should not be tolerated by the managent team.If you ever have a problem please go to the managment team or call eugene,you can be conected to the man who runs the whole show.He takes calls and talks to our customers all the time.by the way i am not managment, i’m one of the people at that gate “)