10 Things You Didn't Know About... T.J. Maxx

Ever wish you knew more about your favorite stores? Like when are their biggest sales and where do they get such great items? Those pressing questions will be answered in this blog in a regular feature called 10 Things You Didn't Know About (insert your favorite store here). E-mail me at shoptoit@washingtonpost.com if you want to know some insider knowledge about your favorite store. I'm calling the stores directly and getting answers you can't find their Website. I'm starting with T.J. Maxx, whose spokespeople explained how they're able to offer such great deals on the same stuff as department stores.

1. Don't be surprised if you find the same merchandise at T.J. Maxx and Macy's on the same day but with a significant price difference. That's because T.J. Maxx is an off-price buyer, which means they benefit from ordering mistakes made by mainstream retailers and over-production of items by the clothing makers. Off-price companies buy that excess merchandise. So if a vendor has enough fabric to produce 600,000 blouses but a department store only ordered 500,000, off-price buyers will purchase the extra 100,000 blouses. It doesn't necessarily mean that T.J. Maxx's inventory is from last season. They promise that at least 85 percent of it is in season.

2. T.J. Maxx, whose parent company also owns Marshalls and Home Goods, is the largest off-price retailer in North America and competes closely with Ross and Big Lots.

3. T.J. Maxx buyers only look for merchandise that can sell for up to 60 percent less than what the department stores sell it for.

4. The only sales you'll see at T.J. Maxx are at the end of the season when all the merchandise that hasn't sold goes on clearance. Anything that isn't sold at clearance is donated to charities.

5. Buyers for T.J. Maxx negotiate with more than 10,000 vendors in more than 60 countries for merchandise.

6. Despite popular perception, less than 5 percent of T.J. Maxx's inventory is imperfect.

7. T.J. Maxx gets three to four shipments of 10,000 new items each week.

8. T.J. Maxx has a high-end boutique called Runway at Maxx within some of its stores to sell clothes from American and European designers. New shipments come in from abroad weekly. Locally, only stores in Alexandria and Vienna have Runway at Maxx so far.

9. T.J. Maxx sells 14-carat gold, sterling silver and semi-precious stones.

10. You can sign up for "What's In" alerts, which are heads-up from other shoppers when they spot certain designers like Dooney & Bourke and Roberta Gandolfi at the local T.J. Maxx.

What deals have you found at T.J. Maxx? Have you ever bought something there that you saw at a department store? Which store has the better stuff -- T.J. Maxx or Marshalls? Have you shopped Runway at Maxx yet? Post a comment and share your experience.

By Tania Anderson |  October 2, 2008; 3:00 AM ET 10 Things You Didn't Know About...
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T.J. Maxx is my favorite place to shop for clothes and shoes. I like Marshalls as well but T.J. Maxx seems to have better quality clothes.

Posted by: Maureen | October 2, 2008 9:09 AM

I've bought Theory, Alice and Olivia pants, Earnest Sewn Jeans and some Prada capris at TJMaxx. I've even gotten some good deals on a couple of pairs of shoes, too. It's always worth a look.

Posted by: Annette | October 2, 2008 9:11 AM

Theory, Calvin Klein, James Perse, Seven for All Mankind, Lucky, Michael Stars...where to begin?

My favorite deals? Last week's $280 blazer for $19 (with the original tags), and the James Perse pants, reduced from $269 to $9.

Posted by: J.T. | October 2, 2008 9:19 AM

I love TJ Maxx. Sometimes I really have to dig but 50-75% of the time I come out of their Bailey's Crossroads store with a real "steal." The store might look kinda dumpy but who cares when you can get a Theory suit for 80% off the regular price?

Posted by: MaxxShopper | October 2, 2008 9:19 AM

T.J. Maxx prices are higher than Ross. In Waldorf T. J. Maxx & Home Goods are together in one building. I usually shop on the Home Goods side. T. J. is expensive to me almost like shopping @ Macys.

Posted by: Bargain Shopper | October 2, 2008 9:40 AM

Thanks for the "inside information". I like Maxx better than Ross or Marshalls. I think the clothes are better organised and I think I get better deals there. Marshalls often looks "picked over." I hadn't heard of Runway before this column.

Lately, I've noticed that Dress Barn has lots of different dresses, all in the same style. The selection looks huge, but it's all just fabric differences. *sigh*

Posted by: Meg | October 2, 2008 10:15 AM

TJ Maxx and Marshalls both have New England roots, have been around here for ages. They tailor their stock to the community where the store is located. The TJ Maxx in my small town, which is so far from Boston that it's not considered a suburb, carries very few women's suits and blazers, while stores closer to Boston have a great selection of nice professional clothes for women. It can be worthwhile to visit a number of stores in your region to get a sense of who they cater to and find the best stuff.

Posted by: new england | October 2, 2008 10:18 AM

My mother and I will often go on TJ Maxx tours of New England. You might find one piece of an outfit at one store and the other half at another, but its worth the discount. I like to think of it as a shopping scavenger hunt!

Posted by: Jennifer | October 2, 2008 10:28 AM

My wife L-O-V-E-S TJ Maxx (and to a slightly lesser degree Marshall's and Ross), but I just can't get into these stores no matter how good the deals are. The lack of organization and seemingly haphazard approach to merchandising just isn't for me.

For what it's worth, her new favorite place (it is really a thrift store) is Unique in Falls Church. She could spend hours there sorting through lots of dreck before finding that one item which she simply must have. Personally, I think the store smells like a sewer and most of the clothing is a step below what you find at a typical Salvation Army.

Posted by: More Cowbell | October 2, 2008 10:44 AM

Shopping at places like TJ Maxx and Marshall's: I just can't do it. These stores make me miserable. They're dirty, crowded and disorganized. It's impossible to find anything good without patience and a LOT of time. Sure, you can get a good deal sometimes but it's just not worth it to me. (And I'm not rich, just sayin'.)

Posted by: stef | October 2, 2008 10:49 AM

Do Marshall's and Ross get their merchandise from the same sources? Who has the more high-end stuff?

Posted by: alexandria | October 2, 2008 11:11 AM

Living in the District, Marshall's is far more accessible, but I have been very annoyed at Marshall's for not letting more than 5 items into the dressing room at a time (hello?!), rude staff, and the stores are a MESS. TJ Maxx is more organized and better laid out. I only wish they were a little more accessible (to me).

Posted by: Columbia Heights | October 2, 2008 11:18 AM

When I lived in the DC area I never shopped at these stores because they are SO SO dirty and messy and the lines to check out awful. I tried a Marshall's when I moved away and liked it, but I love TJ Maxx where I live now. It's SO nice and clean and the clerks are actually helpful.

I often buy European brands for my kids (Catimini, 3 Pommes, IKKS) and find them here at cents on the dollar, easily up to 80%% off regular price. I have found toys as well, like Playmobil for half off.

Definitely worth it.

Posted by: Andrea | October 2, 2008 11:52 AM

I still like your photo...and the blog. ;)

Posted by: Happy Pappy | October 2, 2008 12:22 PM

Tania is cute, isn't she?

Posted by: I Concur | October 2, 2008 12:43 PM

There isn't a TJMaxx near me so I shop at Marshall's. I always check the purses as they often have something I like from LeSports Sac or Sac.

They also have interesting pots and pans.

Posted by: RoseG | October 2, 2008 1:37 PM

Maybe I'm going to the wrong T.J. Maxx locations -- Marshalls is my favorite.

Posted by: roya | October 2, 2008 2:22 PM

TJ Maxx and Marshall's are under the same corporate umbrella. The Marshall's at Potomac Mills is a Marshall's Home Goods store and you can find really neat stuff there.

Also, the A.J. Wright stores (DC, Suitland, Alexandria, Woodbrodge, Woodlawn) have amazing items that you can't find anywhere else, especially when it comes to menswear, shoes, and the occasional home items.

Posted by: Stuff 2 know | October 2, 2008 4:03 PM

I agree! I bought two leather chairs from the Home Goods store at Potomac Mills: $100 each and they were $459 each online.

Posted by: To Stuff 2 know | October 2, 2008 5:51 PM

I'd rather spend a day in a preschool room.Personally I think the place smells like clorox.

-P.S i'm 10

Posted by: unknown | October 2, 2008 9:40 PM

Here's another little known fact - TJX Companies supplements its stock of well known national brands with merchandise manufactured for sale under its own store brands. If you check the trademark database at the PTO, you'll find several hundred live marks. Not that this merchandise is bad, mind you (I have several Sarah Spencer and Avellini pieces in my wardrobe), but that's how they round out the racks.

Posted by: DC | October 3, 2008 8:09 AM

Not just cute... HOT!!

Posted by: Angel | October 3, 2008 10:16 AM

The TJMs and Marshalls here are hit or miss; the best I've ever seen was the Marshalls at Sawgrass Mills outlet mall near Ft. Lauderdale in FL. It was Dec right after Christmas, and they had Dana Buchman's previous spring pieces plus alot of Lilly Pulitzer for women and little girls. I shop more at Filene's Basement for offprice, and Talbots and Chicos when lots of stuff is on sale or they send me coupons.

Posted by: Bagbabe53 | October 3, 2008 10:40 AM

I think it's only fair to remind readers of the credit scandal where TJ Maxx was responsible for private information of shoppers being leaked. Sure victims were offered a few months free credit protection, but the damage done could go beyond that. Bottom line - don't trust them with your personal info! If you simply gotta have something there, pay cash.

Posted by: Gwen | October 3, 2008 11:02 AM

Hi Tania!

I loved this article! It would be wonderful to get some insider scoop about Burlington Coat Factory!


Posted by: Liz | October 7, 2008 11:48 AM

My Mom swears by AJ Wright,Marshalls and TJMaxx. She has their credit card and really enjoys receiving a $10 off certificate, when she racks up enough of qualifying point purchases.

AJ's, she says, can be a treasure trove, but you have to know what you are looking for.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 2008 9:48 AM

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