Thursday, April 30, 2015

If it's Thursday it Must be TJ Maxx

Low prices are one reason...

Shop may be too active a verb, but I peruse my local TJ Maxx and Marshall's twice each week and make no apologies. First of all, they are both conveniently located a few doors from each other in a strip mall less than a quarter mile from my house.

Before we moved to Texas the nearest Marshall's was 20 minutes away, TJ Maxx another 10. I kind of sort of fantasized how nice it would be to live close to them, and now I do. Insert happy dance here. And the Marshall's is right below my gym— weights hitting the floor sound like thunder when you're in the store. I do have a strict rule: no shopping till after the workout.

 But why so often? As if a dedicated lover of the marketplace needs a reason, but I do have them:

For one thing, it's a time saver. These stores are big, and in the case of Marshall's (which includes a Homegoods), so big it's easier to spot what's new when you visit often. Merchandise doesn't just get moved around, it's restocked daily.  By shopping twice a week I can breeze through the store, stopping at what is newest. I've a trained shopper's eye, though I doubt that will win me a Nobel Peace Prize.

There is a limited quantity on offer. It's not a question of, "Do you have this in the stockroom in size 6?" What you see is itand you'd better grab it when you do. I've missed out on things and never seem to learn that she who hesitates regrets. I'm still looking for those black and white harlequin bath towels I passed on.

TJ Maxx/Marshall's are also the real thing. Although there are some "house brands" you will see nowhere else (Cynthia Rowley's stuff is not to be confused with her upscale designs), the majority is culled from manufacturer over-runs, merchandise not picked up in time after having been ordered by other store buyers, and things seemingly washed ashore from now defunct operations like Kate Spade Saturdays and C Wonder. A friend of a friend with a long-time high-level position at Ralph Lauren once revealed TJ's and Marshall's get the honest-to-goodness goods. The stuff shipped to their outlet stores has been made expressly for them with a lower standard of quality.

You never know what you'll find. While it's good to have focus on any shopping trip I'm often amazed by what I didn't think I needed till I walked in the store. I've refreshed my home decor or picked up some nifty kitchen gadgets by keeping eyes open and mind clear.

That's another thing: retail therapy. It's not to be taken lightly. When you find yourself mentally overwhelmed you may need a distraction to sort yourself out, thus returning a saner person to the situation. It doesn't matter if you end up buying nothing, retail therapy can help.

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I'm not a big believer in having a zillion credit cards, but the TJ Maxx/Marshall's/Homegoods credit card actually delivers. It can't be used anywhere but the company's stores (so not for groceries or gas), but there's no annual fee, and you earn 5 points for every $1 spent. Earning 1,000 points gets you a $10 rewards certificate. Free money! Be warned though: pay your bill on time or get hit with a late fee.

...even lower prices are another

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