The shopping frenzy that surrounds “the most wonderful time of the year” is, simply put, overwhelming. During the holidays everyone wants to give and get great gifts, but no one wants to break the bank doing it. So we deal with crack-of-dawn specials, one-day sales and other gimmicks that are anything but convenient or enjoyable. Sure, there’s the e-commerce route, but if you’re like me, and you prefer doing your gift buying the traditional, let’s-go-to-the-store-and-mull-over-sweaters-for-three-hours way, then you might find that off-price shopping is a surprisingly pleasant alternative.
The closest off-price outpost for me is Marshalls, and I only go there when I need to buy undershirts on the cheap. I’ve never really looked at it as a viable shopping option. Living in the NY area, I can go to samples sales and vintage stores where high-quality merchandise at jaw-dropping prices reign supreme I recently bought a $20 coat at a factory sale. But during a recent visit to the TJX (the folks behind TJ Maxx and Marshalls) HQ in Framingham, MA, I learned why, especially during the holidays, I should pay much closer attention to these treasure troves of stores. Below is a quick (but thorough and helpful) guide to making the most of your off-price visit.
Kill it with kindness
It’s estimated that roughly 10,000 new pieces of merchandise make their way onto the sales floor at every TJ Maxx and Marshalls outpost weekly. But sadly, there’s no specific day to expect these shipments. It could come any day of the week. Your best bet is to befriend a local manager and ask about when deliveries are expected to arrive. Fostering these relationships could lead to some very fruitful and successful shopping trips.
No sales, no coupons, no problem
Unlike your mall mainstays like the Gap and Macys, who seem to have promotions round the clock, TJ Maxx and Marshalls dont hold sales or give out coupons. So that holiday dress youre eyeing wont get marked down until it goes on clearance at the end of the season. So if youre thinking of holding off for a better price, youll be waiting a while.
Wait at your own risk
The issue with waiting is that theres no guarantee on stock. It was revealed that buyers at TJ Maxx and Marshalls make orders based on need. The inventory is meant to move now youre not going to see coats in July, like you would at a department store. Sure, if something does well and sells out, buyers might get more, but the inventory here turns faster than a revolving door. You simply cant rely on back stock.
Purple, purple, purple
I realized very quickly that if Im ever in one of these off-price stores, I should be looking to snag the biggest bargain possible. I mean, thats the whole point, right? So at TJ Maxx or Marshalls Im on the hunt for anything with a purple price tag. These tags are affixed to the chicest pieces in the store were talking Marni, Prada, Helmut Lang and more. While its totally convenient to horde quality undershirts here, it was a total waste of my time (you can buy those anywhere). Finding severely discounted designer goods? Time well spent, friends.
Im one of those people who shop for the holidays all year long. If I see something I think someone will like, then Ill buy it and hold onto it until December rolls around. I do this because I want to minimize last minute shopping trips so I can avoid crowds, one of the things I seriously hate about sample sales. I cant stand seeing throngs of shoppers get out of control over discounted merchandise. The Marshalls by me was not particularly crazy during Black Friday weekend It was actually tame. I guess when youre not shilling out door-busters, manic crowds wont bust your doors.