Off-Price Retail, TJ Maxx & Boston: Part II

November 20, 2008 • Fashion


Tuesday morning a group of us arrived at the TJ Maxx/Marshall‘s headquarters for a day of off-price education and shopping. Now truth be told I have had varying degrees of success at these stores. Actually at TJ Maxx, never Marshalls and it all depends on location in my book. There are currently approximately 1700 stores across the country within a 3 mile radius of every major population. The richer the hood, the better the merchandise. Case in point, my parents live near Niagara Falls, NY and the TJ Maxx near them is horrid. However, when I have visited TJ Maxx in areas like Chicago and near Boulder I have scored some great designer deals. Many years ago a friend clued me in to the ‘amazing’ silver jewelry selection at TJ Maxx.

To be successful at these types of stores you must be willing to dig and love the thrill of the hunt. I usually only like this when I am bored and lately, I only shop with a mission/goal. However, I remember plenty of times when I wondered aimlessly looking for some retail therapy. For sure.

You would be correct if you assumed off-price retailers are doing well in this economy. People still want and need to shop so stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls are suddenly in again. Their business model works in good times and bad and let’s face it, they don’t have to predict fashion which gives them a lot more flexibility.

Apparently I am not the only one that has the following misconception…I thought TJ Maxx/Marshalls only sold previous seasons (out of fashion clothes) and irregular merchandise. You know, the cast-offs that nobody wants.

Here is the reality:

1. Major savings – you can find fabulous savings on the same designer merchandise at department and specialty stores. The TJ Maxx and Marshalls business strategy consists of buying when department stores overbuy and designers overproduce. A team of buyers therefore can negotiate incredible prices on brand name merchandise which they call "opportunistic" buying.   

2. Product quality – the vast majority of TJ Maxx and Marshalls merchandise is comprised of name brand goods purchased from brand vendors. Less than 5% of merchandise is irregular and is always clearly marked. 85% of the merchandise is current season and 15% is past season which again is clearly marked.

3. Fresh merchandise – while department stores only receive new merchandise quarterly, TJ Maxx and Marshalls receive more than 10,000 new items each week. 

We were treated to a splurge vs. steal fashion show and I hate to admit…I got one of the three looks wrong!


This is the one I guessed wrong. The Splurge was $724.49 and the Steal was $334.95


This one I nailed immediatly. The jackets/sweater and shoes were a dead giveaway. However the Splurge look was $707.99 and the Steal look was $346.94


Again I got this one because the splurge jacket looked richer as did the boots. The Splurge look was $711.98 (not bad and that jacket was only $249.99) and the Steal look was $376.95.

Here are a few new happenings at TJ Maxx/Marshalls that you maybe interested in checking out:

Look for the beauty department to grow in the near future. They are getting ready to take on Sephora and Ulta.


  • Shoe Megashop – large footwear selection for the family
  • The Cube – in-store boutique with contemporary labels aimed at the 18-25 year-old
  • Larger men’s department

TJ Maxx

  • Women’s shoes
  • The Runway at Maxx – which carries high-end designers
  • Jewelry department


Guys and shoes…is there anything better?

Eventually it was time for us to go on a shopping expedition in downtown Framingham. First stop, Marshalls. I was out of there pretty quickly as I wanted to see the luxury designer section over at TJ Maxx. Hey, what can I say…I’m transparent. So I walked out of Marshalls with some stockings, leather gloves and socks. They did have cute athletic wear though. I must admit, I raced out too quickly to check out The Cube and will hit that department in NYC soon.

Now they can’t (won’t) tell you the labels, but I can tell you what I saw!

As soon as I walked into TJ Maxx I bee-lined for the designer department! I saw items by Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino, Vera Wang, Michael Kors, Nanette Lepore, Catherine Malandrino, Theory and many brands of designer jeans. I am sure I am forgetting quite a few.

Let’s just say I did pretty well and am now looking forward to scoping out the TJ Maxx designer department in Manhattan.


Group photo outside TJ Maxx! (top row) Adriana Nova of The Fashion Bomb, Aly Walansky of iVillage, Ike Onyewuenyi of My Fashion Life, Angela Shultis of The Budget Fashionista, Nichelle Gainer of 55 Secret Street (bottom row) Lauren Dimet Waters of Second City Style, Lindsay Ginn of Broke and Beautiful, Wendy Lam of Nitrolicious.

– Lauren Dimet Waters

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