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BJ’s club to set up shop in Middle Village

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A long-vacant series of storefronts in Middle Village’s Metro Mall has found a tenant that promises to draw new business in bulk.

BJ’s Wholesale Club is planning a fall opening in a 130,000-square-foot space at the Metro Mall, a large indoor shopping center on Metropolitan Avenue that is already home to a Petland Discounts and Sam Goody, among others.

The popular wholesale chain offers large quantities of merchandise at discount prices in a warehouse setting.

“That space has been vacant for too long, and it’ll certainly help to be a draw for the other businesses that are in that Metro Mall,” said Gary Giordano, the district manager of Community Board 5, which includes Middle Village.

“I just hope it doesn’t have a negative effect on other local businesses,” he said. “America is a competitive country, and people will hopefully benefit if they can get something less expensively.”

BJ’s will fill an area of the mall once occupied by two stores that had long since abandoned the venue, rendering it hauntingly desolate. A Pergament home supply store had closed there more than a year ago, while it has been about five years since a Waldbaum’s grocery left the mall, Giordano estimated.

Upstairs from the new BJ’s site are a Toys ‘R’ Us, which is expected to announce a series of store closings national, and Kmart, which is operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

BJ’s currently operates 138 clubs across the country, including one at 137-05 20th Ave. in College Point, the company’s first in New York City. The wholesaler also plans a club in Brooklyn.

“We’ve had a great deal of success in the area,” said BJ’s spokesman Jeffrey Berman. “We committed to the metro New York area. There’s a strong need we feel for the type of warehouse club that we provide.”

Customers must purchase a $40 annual membership to the store, which supplies each household with two membership cards, which they must show to shop at the store. Businesses are also eligible to join at the same rate.

The merchandise ranges from appliances and books to food, clothes and electronics.

Officials at the Metro Mall declined to comment on the impending BJ’s opening.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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