As you toss a hand-painted tea kettle, Tory Burch shoes, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and a set of soft, thirsty oversized bath towels into your wobbly-wheeled shopping cart, you breathe a sigh of shopping bliss. “Pinch me, I’m dreaming!” you murmur to yourself. But this thought gives way to another, somewhat unsettling one: If you were, in fact, dreaming, and woke up suddenly, would you know which store you were in? From the store layout to the merchandise to the intense bargain-seeking vibes your fellow shoppers are emanating, you could just as easily be in T.J. Maxx as you could be in Marshalls. But are these two stores, in fact, identical?
Along with sister chains HomeGoods, Homesense, and Sierra, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls belong to the same parent company: Massachusetts-based TJX, which also owns brands in Europe and Canada. T.J. Maxx was TJX’s first “baby,” launching in 1977, exactly 21 years after its then-competitor Marshalls had hung its shingle. But TJX was able to acquire Marshalls in 1995 (via New York Times). Clearly these two brands have dramatically different stories of origin — but distinctions between present-day T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, however, are a lot more subtle.
Marshalls is a shoe lover's mecca, and T.J. Maxx is more fashionista-friendly
So similar are the products at Marshalls and T.J. Maxx that TJX recently began referring to both brands on its website as “Marmaxx” — kind of the discount retailer’s version of “Bennifer.” But that doesn’t mean they are exactly the same. The TJX website explains: “Marshalls differentiates itself from T.J. Maxx with a full line of family footwear and an expanded men’s department, as well as The CUBE, a department specifically for juniors.” In fact, Marshalls’ inventory of shoes — particularly men’s athletic designer brands, like Nike Lebrons, Kobes and Jordans — is so amazing that this store is where “shoe flippers” usually go to score discounts, then resell their goods on eBay, Mercari or Poshmark for a tidy profit (via Medium).
T.J. Maxx, meanwhile, is where you will find fashionistas (who sometimes call themselves #maxxonistas) cavorting about in all of their glory; this brand is more well-known for designer jewelry and in some locations, The Runway at Maxx, a high-ended designer section. Maybe that’s why celebrities including Taylor Swift, Sia, Britney Spears, and even Prince Harry are among the discounter’s customers (per Business Insider).
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