On Friday I spent part of my day shopping.
I hate shopping.
When I find something I like while shopping, I STOP…and just buy like 4 of the same thing in different colors.
If I can bargain-hunt, and walk away with a great deal, I will scour the racks until I find every last bargain.
I don’t recall going to T.J. Maxx or Marshalls when I was younger, and a recent trip to one last year honestly didn’t do it for me. I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. It appeared unorganized, chaotic and I certainly couldn’t just find something I like in my size and buy 4 of the same thing in different colors. I didn’t get it. I thought the racks and shelves at Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx were filled with second label, imperfect, out-of-season, and unwanted merchandise.
BUT I WAS WRONG.
Pay attention, I don’t admit to being wrong very often.
On Friday morning, bright and early at 8am, I visited the Marshalls store in Berwyn, IL (along with a great group of bloggers from around the country) for the Marshalls Behind the Seams event, and I got some insight into Marshalls and T.J. Maxx that seriously has made me look at the stores in a whole new light – and pretty much guaranteed my interest in going back.
Along with hot coffee, fresh fruit, danish, bagels and getting to spend time with my I.B.F.F. Trisha, right in the middle of the bright, big Marshalls store, Alison Deyette (tv host, correspondent and style expert) talked to us about Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, telling us how they get their merchandise and what you will expect to find on the racks. First, of all, I loved her. She was personable, funny and totally relate-able (although she looked too damn good for someone who spends so much time on airplanes), and second, she really taught me a lot about T.J. Maxx and Marshalls and a bit about the fashion industry as well.
Some interesting things I learned:
- T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s does not sell second brands (clothing lines made for a different market segment with the same name, possibly and likely lower quality) and the racks are not filled with imperfect or out-of-season merchandise. Off-price does not mean lower quality or off-season.
- Most of the items sold at any given time at Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx are IN SEASON and you can find the exact same items at the large department stores for a lot more money. If an item is off season, Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx visually mark it off season and usually put a clearance tag on it.
- Imperfect items are rare as well, and those too will be clearly marked on the tag.
- The clothes that a designer sells to large department stores have to be BOUGHT BACK if they don’t sell. So, designers basically sell to stores like Macy’s and Dillards for branding and sell to Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx to ensure they receive a profit off their designs. Because Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx buy from the designers at a discount, the designers do not buy anything back if it doesn’t sell. This all happens at the SAME TIME. Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx are buying current season items at the same time the big department stores are, just for less money and they pass the savings on to you.
- Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx stores bring in around 10,000 new items EVERY WEEK.
- Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx often have additional color selections that the large department stores will not carry because the large stores tend to be conservative and carry only a couple of neutral colors of a given design.
As I looked around the store, I began to notice the designer labels and name brands and really appreciate and understand the value that T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s provide. Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Wolfgang Puck, Skechers and so many more that would be WAY out of my price range elsewhere, were suddenly not so out of reach at Marshalls and T.J. Maxx prices.
In order to help us really get the full Marshall’s experience, after Alison’s presentation, we each received a “goody bag” with a makeup bag, lipstick, and a $100 Marshalls / T.J. Maxx gift card inside. So Trisha and I decided to shop.
Remember how I said that when I find something I like, I stop and just buy a bunch in different colors? Yeah, well…I wasn’t kidding. Trisha said that was “sad” and gave me some fashion tips and do’s and don’ts (and made fun of me) but we had a great time shopping. I didn’t end up getting any clothing for myself, but I’m halfway to my weight-loss goal and it seemed like a waste to buy something that won’t fit in 2 months. I did, however, find some great stuff and, yes, I did splurge a bit on myself.
The very first thing I picked up was the dress Abby is wearing in the picture below. How could I resist? Price: $9.99. (Thank you Trisha for the photo shoot, my camera couldn’t have come close to this). I also got my son a pair of Nike shorts for $5.99, and a fun t-shirt that was also $5.99.
I also bought myself a quilt. I have always wanted a quilt, and a good quality one is so expensive, but at Marshall’s prices I was able to get a Cynthia Rowley quilt for $49.99. The last thing I bought sort of epitomized the Marshalls experience. In the front of the store, they had a small section of spring/summer household items and sitting alone by itself on a shelf was a 2 1/2 gallon glass drink dispenser. I’ve been looking at these for years and never wanted to spend the $40+ on one. At Marshalls it was $16.99.
Overall, it was a great shopping trip. I learned a lot. I got to hang with Trisha in person instead of over IM. I got to meet Sheena from Sophistishe whom I’ve seen around the blogosphere. I also chatted with Cara from Hollywood Dame, who was a lot of fun!
This event changed the way I view Marshalls and T.J. Maxx and I honestly see myself shopping there in the future.