I know several people who take great pride in never ever paying full price for anything. They shop discount stores such as Walmart and off-price retailers such as T.J. Maxx or Marshalls. Even when they visit full-price retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, they are always armed with coupons and gift cards and they only shop items on sale.
I’m not one of those people. I usually shop at Bloomingdale’s, and while I realize that I’m paying hefty markups when I shop there, the shopping experience there is so pleasant that I keep coming back. I do try to shop items on sale when possible, and I occasionally get gift certificates becuase I’m a card holder, but I still buy many full-price items and boy do these get expensive.
When I got the email that asked me if I would be interested in joining an event hosted by T.J.Maxx at the San Francisco store, I was intrigued. They had me fill this little questionnaire where I basically told them that I am going to come becuase they are driving me there and back and giving me breakfast and a $100 gift card to spend at the store (how’s that for an FTC disclosure), but that they shouldn’t expect to be able to convert me from a full-price to an off-price shopper.
A New Image for the T.J. Maxx Brand
Anyone who watches TV has probably seen the recent TV ads for T.J. Maxx and knows that the company is working hard to change its image. This blogger outreach is obviously a part of this campaign. According to the new messaging, women who shop at T.J. Maxx are not frumpy housewives looking for deals but rather “Maxxinistas” – fashion conscious, trendy women who insist on buying designer clothes for less. So the “Maxxinista” wants the same quality but refuses to pay the high markups she would pay at a department store.
How Do They Do It?
Assuming this is true, and you can find the same designer clothing at T.J. Maxx that you would find in a department store but at T.J. Maxx you pay half the price, how is that possible? How can they sell at such low prices? The T.J. Maxx people explained during their presentation (hey, I had to work for that gift card) that their secret is “opportunistic buying.” Their buyers buy merchandise continually and not seasonally, which enables them to negotiate a better price and to scoop leftover merchandise at low prices. In addition, they keep their store layout simple and basic, so you don’t have to pay for that either.
After spending my gift card at T.J.Maxx on several fabulous items, my conclusion is that you can definitely find great stuff there for half the department store price. I don’t completely agree with their claim that “over 95% of the merchandise is the same first quality items that you would find at a department store at the same time.” My impression was that it was less than that. The quality merchandise is there, but you need to look for it, or as our hostess said, “it’s all about the thrill of hunting.”
If you enjoy scouring merchandise for that one fabulous designer item at a great price, then T.J. Maxx is worth a try. If you prefer a shopping experience of “get in, get out, get on with your life,” you may want to keep paying full price – and in this case, even the sales rack at a department store is likely not for you. As our hostess said, you don’t go into T.J. Maxx saying “I need a black dress today,” but rather you’re saying “what fabulous dress can I find here today?”