How to Shop TJ Maxx

For some, “off price” stores like TJ Maxx are a mecca of bargains, with hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered. For others, the store, with it’s seemingly endless racks and eclectic mix of goods is too daunting to even tackle.

We’d hate for anyone to miss out on great bargains (remember, TJ Maxx sells name brand and designer goods at discount prices) so we’ve got some tips to help you shop the store to your best advantage:



How to Shop TJ Maxx

1. Don’t worry about irregular items. Over 95% of TJ Maxx’s merchandise is first quality, meaning less than 5% is “irregular” — and those aren’t what you think. They’re not defective items, but rather items with irregularities unnoticeable to the customer (like a manufacturer cranked out an order of pumps in patent instead of regular leather . . . )

2. Go in with an open mind. Since TJ Maxx purchasers practice opportunistic buying (meaning they get the best deals from vendors whenever they come up) you can’t count on the store having that Little Black Dress at any given time. Instead, have an of what general types of items you might need to fortify your wardrobe (or home, or whatever department you’re shopping) and look in those sections for the bargains that suit you. Also remember that even though you won’t see designer names on ads, that doesn’t mean you won’t find them there — off price stores like TJ Maxx can’t use designers names in their advertising, but we can assure you that a recent visit turned up items by Theory, Ralph Lauren, and Vera Wang.

3. Expect to find new items right up to the holidays — and any other time of the year. If you already shopping TJ Maxx earlier in the season and didn’t find what you were looking for, don’t assume they won’t have it now. TJ Maxx buys year-round rather than seasonally, and are still buying for stores for Christmas, for example, into early December (meaning they may have more up-to-date goods than the department stores).

4. Look for markdowns on Wednesdays. TJ Maxx generally performs markdowns on Wednesdays (though this can vary from store to store). Trucks arrive 3-5 days a week, meaning the selection changes regularly.

5. Be self sufficient. While we’re sure the employees of TJ Maxx are courteous and friendly, don’t expect a lot of assistance on the floor — the store is primarily a self-navigating experience. That’s not to say no one will help you — just don’t expect a personal shopper at your elbow.

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Comments

  1. SDTransplant says

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    I love shopping at stores like T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s, Ross, and Filene’s Basement, but I have to be in the right frame of mind (read: patient) when I shop there.  The racks can be overwhelming, especially at the end of the day when they’ve been ransacked by other customers.  I’ve gotten quite a few great deals there this past year, including $10 Aerosole espadrilles and a $29 Ralph Lauren denim schoolboy blazer that originally retailed for over $100.

  2. TexanBargainHunter says

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    Tj Maxx is great!  In my area, TJ Maxx has better handbags and Marshalls has better shoes. 

    I have stopped shopping at Ross…more miss than hit.

  3. Juliet says

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    You are right on the “irregular” tag.  I knew someone who worked for a major manufacturer, and he once said that if they actually produced that many “irregulars”, that they would be out of business. He was referring more to their outlet location, but the concept is the same.

  4. aggiedawn says

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    While I typically don’t have the patience to shop for clothes, it’s a great place to find purses, house wares and bath stuff.

  5. Jenn_theglamourgirl says

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    Patience!  A full meal and a bottle of water helps, too!  And definitely shop often as product moves quickly!  BTW, Ross has massive markdowns in January!

  6. laricelc says

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    TJ Maxx is amazing for housewares, along with Ross & Marshalls. You have to be willing to dig amongst broken picture frames and opened boxes with missing items, but when you do find things in good condition, it is well worth the price. TJ Maxx is a great place for gifts since once you remove those impossible price stickers, it’s all good.

  7. DanaEliz says

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    I feel like everything I find at TJ Maxx always ends up having an issue – one that isn’t obvious until you use the item.  A cookbook with recipes that don’t turn out right, sandals that have a poor design and slip off when you walk, kitchen containers that are hard to snap, second quality/old perfume and beauty products etc.  I should start writing down the issues I’ve had.  I barely shop there anymore.  I’m VERY cautious about what I buy when I do go there.

  8. Sharon says

    Bargains at TJMaxx and Marshalls are there but one has to be careful to really find them. Most of what they carry with Name Brands is made for them and the quality is not the same as that Name Brand regular line. The make of the garment is inferior and the size specs are usually skimpy. Their ad campaign is clever but deceiving esp. the new one with the Maxxanista Accessory Buyer attending fashion shows. What brand would ever allow a TJ Maxx buyer to their fashion show when they are trying to sell better stores their line. Fashion show entrance is limited to certain customers and not a ” bottom dweller” like TJMaxx.

    • Angela says

      Actually Sharon, TJMaxx and Marshall’s do buy the exact same namebrand items you’d see in any other store — they purchase overstock, etc. so that’s how they can sell it at a discount … it’s a way for the manufacturers to recoup some cash on stuff they can’t sell at other retail outlets. Sure, they’re not first-look items and it can be difficult to shop TJMaxx or Marshall’s with a specific item in mind, but we maintain they’re one of our FAVORITE places for a brand-name bargain, if you’re willing to take the time to look.

      • Everett says

        This has changed over time. Now, there are many, many “outlet line” versions of things, especially the mid-range stuff like Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, Nautica, and increasingly Ben Sherman, Penguin and others. Also, the two locations near my house have somehow inhibited data usage on smartphones, presumably to prevent people from researching model/article numbers prior to buying.

    • karent says

      You’re confusing overstock stores like TJ Maxx with outlet stores.  Outlet stores are the sort that get slightly inferior quality merchandise specifically made for their stores.  TJ Maxx is strictly overflow or out of season.  At TJ Maxx you are getting the exact same product as you would find in high end stores, but perhaps with a slight defect, out of season, or simply overstocked. 

      • Everett says

        Absolutely no longer true. In men’s stuff, which is what I’m familiar with, approximately 75% of what’s available is “outlet store” stuff. The worst is suits and dress shirts. Essentially, any time there is a brand name topper on the rack, you should be suspicious because it means they regularly get enough of that brand to make signage for it, which indicates a steady, predictable supply. So ALWAYS search for an article number or model number on the tag and search for it. If it brings up the manufacturer site, or that or a reputable department store or online retailer, then you’re good. If it brings up nothing at all, shady-looking “super discount” sites or, as is sometimes the case, nothing at all, then you should assume it is of lower quality and decide based on that how much it’s worth to you.

  9. Sharon says

    Yes, the brands are there but as I said, the way those branded manufacturers make the product for them is not with the same standards as they make on their regular line that they sell dept and spec. stores. Very little are true “overstocks” as you say. Manufacturers can’t afford to take risks with over stocks in this economy and would be out of business if they over produced. I am not saying that manufacturers are not selling overstocks to TJMaxx but I do feel that most of what is offered are not true bargains and beware.

  10. Ronnie says

    Sorry but I have seen the exact same stuff in the department stores as I have bought in Marshall’s and TJ Maxx with no difference in quality or manufacturing methods whatsoever. Same designer name brand, same everything. There’s no gimmick there, trust me, I know from fabric and quality! The market is so volatile and unpredictable in this economy that it’s creating MORE overstocks, not LESS. The department stores are cutting back more and more on their inventory and the manufacturers can’t keep up with the changes.

  11. Ronnie says

    And by “same exact stuff”, I mean the same exact item, down to the color, fabric and design. I have found them on the designer websites for much more. They are current designs, too!

    • Everett says

      Yes, this still exists, usually in the Runway area of the store. It is the minority of what’s sold at TJ Maxx/Winners.

  12. EricaVee says

    Sharon, I have a VERY hard time believing that anyone manufactures things specifically for T.J. Maxx. What you say is certainly true for other stores like Kohl’s and Target, but T.J. Maxx is all last-season and overstock. I have not worked at T.J. Maxx but I have worked at HomeGoods, which is owned by the same company and run under the same business model–they make a profit BECAUSE they don’t have things specifically made for them.

  13. Sharon says

    Hi TBF,
    My friend works for TJMaxx and told me that so much of what they carry is made for them to make it look like is is a bargain but the brand name that is on the label ise definitely legitimate but the quality is just not the same – skimpy and not made in the same factories. I have bought Calvin Klein briefs for my husband and the elastic stretched out after a few washings and I also bought the same brand in Macy’s during one of their sales and the price was pretty much the same as TJMaxx. The same briefs are still laundering beautiful so that tells me their is a difference in how they are made.
    I do shop Marshalls too and notice Kenar in there which I really like and the quality look pretty decent but I don’t recall seeing that brand in any of the department stores so you are probably correct is saying it is one of their own labels

  14. Alisab says

    I don’t know anyone who’s shopped at TJ and has had issues. I’ve bought Michael Kors, DKNY (wearing my cute purple watch now) and more from there. Sharon, they might have some things made for them but most designer labels that I’ve seen/bought are from last season…like I care!! Yes, you have to look, just like anything else, but I’ve yet to run into some of the issues that some of the other posters have had. I go to TJ and Marshalls before I go to a dept store. If you don’t like shopping through racks, then those stores aren’t for you. If you’re a clothes snob who has to buy it at full price…not for you. If you’re patient and willing to wait for an item…that’s the go to place. I like Ross, and they’re finally going to open 2 stores next year in St. Louis!!

  15. Alisab says

    Oh and Carolee is a REAL brand as well as Kenar ladies…carolee has been making jewelry for quite some time and Kenar clothing isn’t as easy to find as it used to be. You can find carolee jewelry at Macy’s. And Kenar is carried at Nordy’s, aka Nordstrom’s. Google both names and you’ll see for yourself.

    Like I said, TJ isn’t for everyone. If you like salespeople following you around, TJ isn’t the place for you. As Kathryn said, you need to be self sufficient.

  16. SewSassy says

    @Sharon & TBF – Thank you! I love insider information. I think TJmaxx and Marshall’s need to lower their prices on children’s clothing. The two stores in my town were dumps, but they have really improved the look and the shopping experience is “cleaner”. These are now my go to spots for add-on wardrobe, wardrobe refreshing, inspiration for things I’d like to make as well as last minute birthday gifts or housewarming. I will say when they start doing clearance I find it hard to tear myself away. Love the tips,

  17. mar says

    Love TJ Maxx and I love Marshalls especially the handbags! I live in the Bay Area and some of the same Michael Kors handbags thatI have seen in Macy’s, I have purchased at Marshalls or at TJ Maxx as recently as this summer. In any event I am always happy with my purchases!

  18. Emily says

    Personally, I love TJ Maxx! I went shopping for some school clothing today, not much, but it was a start.
    I think It’s a fantastic place for a teenager to shop, as well as an adult because not only do they have great deals, but it’s so much more peaceful to shop there. Not having to deal with annoying sales atendents bugging you all the time! It has some great trendy styles and classic peices that are great for any wardrobe for cheap, esspecially being a teen that only makes about $30+ a week.

    It has an array of cute clothes, along with very hit or miss ones. I’ve seen very poor quality and fantastic quality on their racks, you really just have to pay attention, like thrift store shopping. Hidden treasures everywhere!

  19. ashley says

    TJ Maxx is awesome- at least 75% of my wardrobe is from there, and is mostly designer. Lots of interesting things, just pay attention and be willing to scour all the sale racks.

  20. Angie says

    I LOVE Marshalls and TJ Maxx! I bought a Cynthia Rowley Bag at Marshalls for 70 bucks and normally it could run at Marshalls for over $100… Retail price is usually $300 or more! I enjoy the hunt :)

  21. Marian the Librarian says

    I’m a lover of TJ Maxx also. One thing Kathryn didn’t say in the part about the LBD is: if you really like something, even if there is a shadow of a doubt in your mind, BUY IT. It will probably not be there if you leave it and come back. You can return it if you have buyer’s remorse, but the reverse is not true.

    Related to that idea is my philosophy when I shop at TJM: if you find something you love, don’t worry about it not being current season. If you love it today, you will probably still love it when it is time to wear it :) And you will know that you got a great deal.

  22. Debby says

    Beware NOT the real handbag. I purchased a Michael Kors handbag and then took it to
    Michael Kors and it was NOT the same. At first look it appears to be real but when u look for detail not even close. Not same liner and pockets different. No metal studs on bottom of purse and definitely will not stand up by its self. I returned the handbag and now will never believe they carry the rest designer anything.
    I paid 129.00 and the real MK was was 218.00 not much savings for buying a fake MK.
    TJ max and Ross just watch what u are buying ( maybe not such a deal)

  23. Sandra says

    I bought two long sleeve dkny shirts for my daughters at tj maxx I was very up set cuz they lost there ivory color by the second wash and one of them were became unsowed

  24. Saher says

    Good for the house wife or old ladies for socialization. A lot of time waste for outdated color and styles with expensive prices. I often found outdated style and color in way too much expensive than what i can buy from belk or macy’s
    during in clearance while things are still in style. If u look for clearance in regular retail store . the items are instyle and also why to much cheap than u get from ross tj max.

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