Off-Price Retailers Offer Lower Prices On Name Brand Items

My wife and I received a T.J. Maxx gift card this Christmas from someone appealing to our frugal side.  I admit, I haven’t been to a T.J. Maxx store in a long time, but thoroughly enjoyed browsing the aisles with my wife last Saturday.  One of the things that struck me was the number of name-brand items on sale at clearance prices.  Not fully understanding the store’s off-price strategy I was off to learn more.

Off-Price Retailers

First, a little history on the industry straight from the T.J. Maxx website:

Off-price retailing grew in the recession of the mid-’70s when consumers had limited discretionary income.  Consumers wanted to save money without sacrificing quality and fashion.  Shopping “off-price” provided the perfect solution.  Through the years, the off-price industry has continued to grow.  The recession of the early ’90s reinforced consumers’ value-oriented; mentality and heightened the demand for quality fashions at reasonable prices.

Sound familiar?  If the blurb on their website had not reference the recessionary times of the mid-’70s and early-’90s I would have though they were describing the consumer sentiment of today.  After all, many folks are hunting bargains without sacrificing quality.  To me, that is the mantra of the frugal shopper.

Our Finds

The hardest part of spending money with a gift card is trying to decide what to buy and stay within your budgeted amount.  Our gift card was for $25.00, which normally wouldn’t buy much, but as we shopped the items at our local T.J. Maxx store we were able to find three much-needed household items to toss in our shopping cart.

19-piece ultimate measuring set.  Just like the label says, this is the “ultimate measuring set.”  Up to now we’ve collected a mix-matched set of measuring spoons and cups of various sizes, colors and brands.  Now we have a complete, matching set and can retire our current measuring devices to back-up duty.

Shower curtain 3-pack.  My son loves to play “splash the parent” in the bath tub, so we’ve employed a plastic shower curtain liner for some time to protect us (and the bathroom floor). Unfortunately, these things tend to collect mildew pretty quickly, and there are only so many times you can clean with vinegar before they need replacing.

8-piece prep bowls with lids.  My wife enjoys watching the occasional cooking show, and is always envious of the little glass prep bowls everyone uses to separate their spices and various ingredients.  Well, now she has her own!  We have also discovered these are the perfect size for pouring up a little homemade honey mustard or similar sauce for dipping meats and veggies.

We took home all three items for just over $25.00 (the difference was less than a dollar). It felt good to pick up three things we needed, but had put off purchasing because of their expense, even in discount stores.  We didn’t even make it to the racks of discounted, name brand clothing, but plan to as the seasons change and the kids need spring and summer clothing.  From now on, we’ll check off-price retailers before stepping foot in a mall!


  1. Great post. We have had some luck with stores like TJ Maxx and Ross, but we actually do better at Kohl’s when the sales are going on. The housewares aren’t such a good deal, but you can get great, quality clothing (including kids’ clothing and shoes) for cheap.

  2. FYI…plastic shower curtains (liners) can be run through your washing machine with bleach (or vinegar). Yep, they come out wet and drippy because the water gets caught in them, but they are made to drip dry right in the shower! I’ve had the same plastic shower curtains for 5 years. I find they only need to be replaced when the holes from which you hang them tear, so buy the “quality” ones that have grommets to support the holes.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a TJ Maxx, but I do love Ross! Eight years ago when I was going through Arizona’s “welfare” to work program, I was given the choice of a $300 voucher to Kmart or Ross. I selected Ross. I was to spend $200 on my first shopping trip, and came out of there with two weeks worth of office wear, including undergarments and shoes! And the items were high quality. I furthered the life of the items by always hand washing, and drip drying indoors (so the sun wouldn’t fade the colors). I still have all of them in great shape! My MIL gave me a $100 gift certificate for Ross a couple months before Christmas, I need to get there one day again. It sounds like you and your wife did great on your selections, I love those little prep bowls, too. I like to stop by Ross to see if they have any Aerosoles available – the most comfortable women’s shoes (that I’ve ever found) at $20 instead of the $60 and higher when they are sold from the regular stores. Not that I’m a shoe horse, I only have two pair of Aerosoles. I’m with you, these stores are the first place to shop!

  4. I get all my biz casual work clothes from the TJ Maxx and Marshalls type stores. I’ve always found the quality to be just fine.

    The only problem with the clothes vs a normal retailer is that it’s often hard to find the exact style in the size you want. I can walk into Belk and find a shirt I want in 5 minutes, but it costs twice as much. I might go to TJ Maxx 2-3 times before I find a shirt that fits me and I like.

    And I am not of the “big and tall” type so that isn’t the problem.

  5. I love their housewares section but the clothing just takes me too long to sort through. They carry a lot of the same gadgets and brands (le crueset, kitchen-aid) as the upscale department stores. For clothes, I discovered Plato’s Closet. It’s a second-hand store catering to teens and young adults. I found some things there I had bought this past season for almost 80% off! Sometimes I will just walk through Ross or TJ Maxx if I have the urge to shop or browse, at least it keeps me out of the mall….

  6. I tend to have the same problem as the weakonomist. My wife loves to shop at off-price and bargain stores but every time she tries to drag me in there to get something for me, there’s nothing in my size. I seem to hit that 90th percentile body type of 6’1″ and a 34″ waist, so finding good clothes in my size sometimes becomes a challenge even in the stores with plenty of stock. I’m sure she still shops in those stores, but I’ve long since given up. I just buy my clothes on super-sale at Wal-Mart or JCPenny (former for casual, latter for work/dress). Thankfully, I’m not too much into clothing and only buy when the Missus tells me my clothes need replacing. 😉

  7. I’ve never seen a Ross (must not be in the Northeast) but LOVE TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Home Goods, which are all owned by the same company. We’ve shopped there for years, although I do have trouble finding clothes for the kids there. Lands End is still my favorite, but TJ’s is great for shoes and housewares especially.

  8. If you’re in the MIdwest, try Gordman’s. It’s the same type of store and my wife will always check there first when were looking for inexpensive gufts for the holidays.

  9. It makes sense why stores like TJ Max and Marshalls would be popular for that exact reason. People may want the names, but don’t want to pay the price. I mainly do all of my clothes shopping at the Outlet malls for this reason. My favorite brands are there, and the quality is excellent, but I can pay a little less.

  10. My mother-in-law introduced me to TJ Maxx and I’m forever grateful. I find thrift shopping for work clothing is tricky, especially for pants and shoes. But I can always find something at TJM, Burlington Coat Factory or Filene’s – often at about the same price I’d pay secondhand.

    One funny thing, though – Mom goes to great lengths to disguise the fact that she buys gifts there. The TJM tags are always snipped off, and she never gives a gift receipt. Even to me, and I know her secret! 🙂

  11. I lovelovelove TJ Maxx. My entire childhood was clothes from that store (my mom is nuts about it) so for a long time I didn’t want to go there (because it seemed like I had spent half my childhood there!)

    After I got over that, though, I now go there all the time. I buy nearly all my pants there. If not TJ Maxx, I go to Kohl’s for pants. My boyfriend has the same problem with finding things in his size at TJ Maxx since he is 6′ and wears a 33″ waist, so we just shop at Kohl’s for his stuff.

    Kohl’s tip: When you get the flyers, look for the wording “Lowest prices of the season.” Those sales happen 4-6 times a year. Don’t go any other time, and stock up during the “lowest prices of…” days.


  12. Our closest Marshalls is actually in the mall, which is nice b/c you can compare prices easily if you’re looking for something specific. I hate shopping, but I’ll put the time in checking a few stores if I think I can get a good deal on something I really need.

  13. Last August, the closing date on my home purchase was postponed. My clothes were locked in a U-Haul and I had packed enough for only three days. I looked at Wal-Mart, but found nothing. There was a nearby outlet mall and I had gift cards for the Gap and Banana Republic. The prices at the outlet mall were much lower than Wal-Mart and the quality was 100% better. TJ Maxx and Marshall’s have too much merchandise for me to sort through. I think the outlets are a great way to save money and get top-quality clothing.

  14. I second the shower curtain in the washing machine trick – they last for years and years that way – throw in with a couple bathroom towels for scrubbing action. Also – always leave the shower curtains all stretched out to dry after showering…if you push them all to one side, that encourages the mildew. Good air circulation helps also.

    Altho, in FL, everything encourages the mildew 🙂 Good luck!

    Nice that you could buy guilt free 🙂 Those tiny bowls actually have hundreds of uses in the kitchen! I have 3 (garage sales finds) and they are always in use!

  15. Just curious, and please don’t be offended…but does “someone appealing to our frugal side” mean a marketing person from TJ Maxx? I know several bloggers received $25 gift cards from them recently.

  16. Ditto on the shower curtain/washing machine trick. With a toddler in the house, basically, if it doesn’t go in the washing machine, it doesn’t stay in the house. 😉 FWIW, I am anti-vinyl because of the fumes, so I use a quality cloth shower curtain. I bought my last one at Lowe’s for $2.50 on the clearance rack, it doesn’t tear, it’s washable and bleachable, it keeps the water in the shower, and doesn’t give off nasty fumes – and I’ve had it for a decade. FYI, I think of buying Tide & Clorox II as being frugal, because in combination with my front-loading machine, I never have clothes with stains on them. Clothes are expensive, and well worth a bit more in laundry detergent not to replace something every whipstitch because they’re stained.