If you like saving money on fashion and home goods, chances are you already like TJ Maxx and its sister store, Marshall's.
While other retail chains are shuttering stores, these popular discounters are expanding.
And for good reason: With new bargains every week, especially on designer names, everyone has a favorite item to look for.
Allison Morgan told us she looks for "household goods, rugs, pillows." Kim Hawkins loves them for jewelry and deeply discounted outerwear.
"I got this Michael Kors coat at a really good price," she said.
You probably know that every time you go through their doors, you will save money compared with retail. However, if you know how their timing and how their tags work, you can save even more.
With the help of Joanie Demer, one of the founders of The Krazy Coupon Lady blog, we found nine TJ Maxx secrets every shopper should know.
1. Shop early in the week
Demer said many people make the mistake of hitting TJ Maxx on Fridays or Saturdays. It's convenient, but it's a bad idea - you are getting the week's leftovers at that point.
"They get their shipments in the early, early hours of Monday mornings, and so they are going to be giving that inventory out the first few days," she said.
In addition, you are no longer competing just with local shoppers by the end of the week. Etsy and eBay sellers hit the stores early and grab designer goods that they can resell at higher prices, Demer said.
2. Know what tag colors mean
"A white tag is regular TJ Maxx price," Demer said. "A red tag is clearance price. And if you see a yellow tag, that is actually the final clearance price."
When the tag goes yellow, she says, the price is as low as it will get.
"If you see something you are interested in, and you see a yellow tag on it, do not wait. Buy it right away," she said.
Chances are good that item will be gone two days later, unless it is the ugliest sweater you ever saw. (But if that's the case, why did you look at it in the first place?)
3. Check their makeup and lotion before going to the department store
"I would say beauty items are some of my favorite items to buy," Demer said.
She said you'd be surprised what they have in their beauty aisles, and it is well worth checking there before you set foot in a Macy's or Sephora for cosmetics.
4. They have a great selection of pet supplies
Many shoppers remember the days when TJ Maxx and Marshall's had piles of overstock clothing and shoes, and little else. Times have changed.
"Another category is pets, as far as pet beds and pet accessories you need," Demer said.
Indeed, we found a whole aisle of cat and dog beds, plus cat climbing trees, priced well below the nearby big box pet chain store.
5. But think twice before buying sheets and towels
Joanie Demer's only "you might do better elsewhere" advice for us concerned the bedding section. For starters, it can be tough to find matching items there, such as eight of the same bath towel or two identical queen sheet sets.
Then come the prices. Demer said you can often do better at stores like Target or Macy's during a White Sale.
"Bedding and towels are items where the prices at TJ Maxx are OK, but there are so many better places to shop," she said.
6. Use gift cards interchangeably
Demer said one great thing is that you can use a Marshall's or Home Goods gift card at TJ Maxx, and vice versa. That way, if you got one as a gift, you can actually use it at multiple stores.
"TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Home Goods, even Sierra Trading Post, they all operate from the same parent company," she explained. "It's good to know that cause you can use their gift cards interchangeably."
That is also an advantage if you buy a deeply discounted gift card to one store at sites like Raise.com.
7. Check out "The Runway"
TJ Maxx stores in urban areas now have a section called The Runway, filled with markdowns on high-end designer names, the type you would find in a Nordstrom.
Sure, she added, $200 for a pair of shoes may sound like a lot to most people, but when those were originally $600 shoes...well, you get the point.
8. Shop Marshall's for menswear
Although TJ Maxx has men's casual clothing, if you want dress clothing, shoes, or just more variety, you may prefer Marshall's for wider selection.
In recent years, TJ Maxx has become more female-focused, while Marshall's stores tend to have more children's and men's items.
9. You can bring your poodle
Yes, The Krazy Coupon Lady says TJ Maxx stores are dog friendly, as long as they can ride in a cart or are on a leash.
Finally, forget about couponing or price-matching with other stores. Prices at TJ Maxx are so low, what you see on the tag is what you get. Luckily, it's usually a great deal.
Read more TJ Maxx tips from The Krazy Coupon Lady, and don't waste your money.
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