Have you ever wondered how TJ Maxx and Marshalls can sell name brand clothes for so much less than department stores? Do their low prices make you question the quality of what you’re buying? Maybe it’s like what you’ve hear about outlet malls, where some of the merchandise is specially made at a lower quality than what you’d find at a regular mall?
Watch this short (2:43) video I made sharing the truth about TJ Maxx and Marshalls, based on what I learned at an event called Behind the Seams held last month in Chicago. (This is a link to the video, if you can’t see the video viewer below.)
I found some of what I learned at Behind the Seams to be very educational and helpful to me as a bargain shopper, so I’m sharing what I learned with you. Plus, you’ll see the inside of my closet, which might prompt me to ‘fess up to the crazy way I organize my clothes – by type (formal/informal), then by color, sleeve length, and collar length. I can always tell if someone’s been in my things. :)
How Do They Keep Prices Low?
I learned two interesting things TJ Maxx and Marshalls do to keep their prices low. First, they don’t have buy back clauses with designers. Major department stores that buy a quantity of dresses or shirts from a designer will include a statement in the contract where the designer will buy back whatever doesn’t sell at the end of the season. TJ Maxx and Marshalls don’t include that clause, which means they can negotiate a lower front end price. They pass that lower price on to you and me, making us happy shoppers.
One other interesting way they keep their prices down is related to their advertising. You’ll notice that the weekly sales flyers for department stores feature specific brands. The designers pay for that advertising, and of course we ultimately pay for it in terms of a higher price. If you notice, TJ Maxx and Marshalls never mention specific name brands in their ads, they just use general statements about having “department store brands.” Again, that translates to a lower price on the rack because the designer pays less to sell their merchandise in a TJ Maxx or Marshalls store.
The Truth About Quality
Even as a bargain hunter I sometimes question “does lower price mean lower quality?” I really question this with clothing, knowing that a lot of merchandise in outlet malls is actually lesser quality than its department store counterpart. Good news! This is NOT the case with TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
TJ Maxx and Marshalls carry the exact same merchandise that you’d find in a department store. Same season. Same quality. Same designers. They buy some directly from designers and some from department stores that have purchased too much. Either way, it is brand new, first-run, department store quality stuff.
Since designers don’t buy back merchandise at the end of the season you may find an occasional piece that is from last season. The label always discloses this saying, “Last Season” so you always know what you’re getting.
I also found it interesting to learn that each store gets about 10,000 new pieces of merchandise each week. That reminds me of a thrift store in that it’s a bit of a treasure hunt and you never know what you’ll find.
All in all, I feel like a more educated consumer after having attended the Behind the Seams event. That will translate into a smarter shopper since I better know how to fit TJ Maxx and Marshalls into my shopping routine now.
Your turn: What questions do you have about how TJ Maxx and Marshalls work?
**Disclosure: TJ Maxx and Marshalls provided my transportation and lodging for the trip to Behind the Seams as well as a $100 gift card to use in their stores. All opinions in this video are mine. Read our disclosure statement for more details.