T.J.Maxx bag filled with Off-Price retail purchases
Marshalls. T.J Maxx (T.K Maxx). Ross. Big Lots. Home goods.
We have probably all heard these names before and probably shopped in one of these stores a few times. These types of stores are called “Off-Price Retail Stores” and they continue to grow and expand their base.Some are massive multi-billion dollar companies and some are stand alone stores. I’m sure we can all think of a local store that sells off-price items.
But, are they worth it? I did a similar article examining Outlet malls and whether or not they are worth it if you are interested.
The first thing we must do is define an Off-Price retailer. What makes a store just that? An off-price retail store is described as one that sells high-quality items at lower prices. If you go back to the origins of outlet stores, this is a similar concept.
So… how do these off-price retail stores do it?
This is an important question. How can these stores sell quality items at bargain prices? Especially around the same time, similar items are found in department or brand stores? Immediately you think that something is wrong with the merchandise. It’s either damaged or lower quality or fake right?
Well here are two major ways these types of stores acquire their merchandise.
This is what occurs when a company overestimates the demand for a product. For example, if a Department store might order 500 pink floral dresses but it turns out only 200 sold in the expected time. Off-price retailer buyers swoop in and purchase the remaining 300 dresses at a discounted price. The company will then resell them at a profit to themselves but at a discount to you, the consumer. Everyone wins.
An irregular item is one that is less than perfect. For example a dress with a red zipper instead of a black one or a shirt with the buttons sewn on the wrong side. These items, in the world of retail, are deemed unworthy to be displayed and sold full price in department stores and brand stores. They are, however, perfect for an off-price retail store where they will be sold discounted. Everyone wins again.
But the question remains, is it worth it?
To give some perspective here is an off-price retail shopping scenario:
You go into “OffpriceretailerX” and see an amazing top. Its cobalt blue with a watercolour inspired print, half sleeves, and a loose fit, just how you like it. You pick it up and realise it’s extra small. You wear a medium. So you go over to the medium and search and search. Nothing. Okay, you can wear a large, it will be more comfortable that way. So you go to the large section and search. Nothing. Hmm. Determined you decide you can squeeze into a small. You’ve lost 5lbs recently anyway, so you go to the small section and look. You look and look and …nothing. At this point you are exasperated. You walk through the entire section until your eye spots the shirt. Yes! You grab it! You hold it up and look at it!. It’s a 3XL. It is far too big.
If you had gone into a department store, there is a good chance that same top would be hanging on a rack with a bunch of tops that looked exactly like it. They would be arranged front to back from XS right through to 3XL. You would ask the clerk to get it in your size and he would do just that and take it to the checkout for you and ring you up. No hassle. But, you might pay 3 ½ times as much.
This is the bane of an off-price shopper. Getting a good deal is a downright treasure hunt. There is always a missing size (yours) or a missing colour (the one you want, obviously) or you want six of something and there are only five.
Shopping off-price can be exhausting and tedious and sometimes completely unrewarding and you can find yourself tucked away in a corner sitting on the floor picking through every, single stationary item trying to piece together a set. (I swear it wasn’t me) Yes, this type of retail therapy can land you in actual therapy and it is a major turn off for some. BUT, when you get that deal. When you get that Stella McCartney perfume for 20% less and when you find the perfect pair of ankle biting blue jeans for under $20, it all seems worth it. It makes the digging and rifling worthwhile. For some of us at least.
So let’s review our points:
1)Off Price retailers sell you real, quality items-This is in comparison to many outlet stores which are now producing lower quality items specifically for outlets.
2)They sell it at a reduced price- This is why we look for bargains, we hope to pay a bit less for what we want without completely forfeiting quality.
3)They can be difficult to navigate-There is often a surplus of merchandise packed in and overflowing in most cases and no matter how diligent the staff appears to be, everything always looks picked over.
4)You won’t always get what you want-In these types of stores, you get what you find not necessarily what you go looking for because the stock is often piecemeal.
5)It may not be perfect- As mentioned, some of this merchandise may have some damage or imperfection which landed it in that store in the first place.
To answer the question as to whether or not it’s worth it, it depends on you. Are you willing to hunt through random unrelated items to get the one you desire? Are you okay with having an item that may have an imperfection? If the answer is yes, then it is totally worth it because as I said, when you get that deal there is no better feeling.
If you prefer to know precisely what you are getting and want a fairly hassle free experience then stick to retail and perhaps wait for your favourite stores to put on sales if you want a good bargain.
Thank you for reading. Happy shopping and have an awesome day.