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The battle of the discount stores

Nothing beats a good discount store when you need a new outfit, which is why many shoppers (including us!) make a beeline for the biggest names in discount retailers: TJ Maxx and Marshalls.

If you haven’t shopped at either store before, Marshalls and TJ Maxx are remarkably similar. Both offer name brand, designer goods at deeply discounted prices and offer customers much the same shopping experience.

They’re much more connected than the rest of their competition, which includes other off-price stores like Burlington, Saks Off 5th, Ross Dress for Less, and Nordstrom Rack.

As it turns out, TJ Maxx and Marshalls aren’t just closely related—they’re in the same family!

Multinational discount store corporation The TJX Companies operates TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, HomeSense and Sierra (Credit: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock)

Both stores are owned by TJX Companies, a conglomerate that also owns HomeGoods, HomeSense, Winners and Sierra. TJX Companies is the biggest name in discount stores, often earning a spot on the Fortune 500 list.

Despite the family resemblance, there are some notable differences between TJ Maxx and Marshalls.

Marshalls has a most impressive shoe and clothing department for everyone

Both discount stores have shoes, but when you walk into Marshalls, you’ll notice that a large section of the store is devoted to shoes. Marshalls offers a wide selection of styles and brands of shoes for women, men and children.

Marshalls knocks it out of the park when it comes to shoe brands. The store can often be seen carrying popular styles like Nike Air Jordans, which can retail for over hundreds of dollars.

Marshalls offers more high-end clothing and shoe brands than TJ Maxx and feels more organizedMarshalls offers more high-end clothing and shoe brands than TJ Maxx and feels more organized (Credit: Photosounds / Shutterstock)

In fact, many resellers will shop at Marshalls to serve as their inventory, turning their purchases to sell on e-commerce marketplaces.

TJ Maxx carries shoes, but generally has a smaller selection and focus on women’s shoes.

TJ Maxx focuses on designer women’s clothing and jewelry

Although both stores carry clothes for the whole family, TJ Maxx is geared toward fashionable women—so much so that the brand even coined the term “Maxxinista.”

TJ Maxx is one of the best discount stores for women's fine jewelryTJ Maxx is one of the best discount stores for women’s fine jewelry (Credit: Helen89 / Shutterstock)

At TJ Maxx, the women’s clothing section surpasses the men’s and children’s. The store’s adult and petite women’s assortment features a variety of popular designer brands, and some TJ Maxx locations have a department called “The Runway at Maxx” that advertises luxury designer brands you won’t see in Marshalls.

Marshalls has a somewhat similar youth department – called “CUBE” – as Marshalls tends to focus on the whole family.

American discount store chain TJ Maxx has more than 1,000 stores in the United StatesAmerican discount store chain TJ Maxx has more than 1,000 stores in the United States (Credit: Kevin Chen Images / Shutterstock)

Additionally, TJ Maxx carries a large selection of women’s accessories. If you need a pair of sunglasses or earrings on the fly, TJ Maxx will have more than enough options for you to choose from.

Despite these differences, TJ Maxx and Marshalls have shared many of the same scandals and disasters.

Marshalls and TJ Maxx sold recalled products to customers

In August 2022, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) put TJX Companies on fire after it was discovered that TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods had sold a number of swing nest egg chairs that were initially recalled due to the fact that they were done improperly.

Horrifyingly enough, the sale of these recalled rocking chairs resulted in 27 incidents of the chairs being broken. Out of these 27, 19 of these occurrences resulted in injury.

HomeGoods and TJ Maxx are sister companies and are both owned by TJX CompaniesHomeGoods and TJ Maxx are sister companies and are both owned by TJX Companies (Credit: 2p2play / Shutterstock)

Not only were these chairs never meant to be sold, they were dangerous assets. Yes!

According to the CPSC, TJX Companies agreed to pay a $13 million fine, settling in a settlement that states the company “knowingly sold, offered for sale and distributed” these products. With this deal, there’s no way the TJX companies can play the ignorance card.

TJ Maxx and Marshalls are often accused of selling inauthentic goods, but they’re likely legit — even if they’re purchased using less-than-usual methods

High-end designer brands are known for being extremely sharp in slashing the price of their wares. Louis Vuitton will reportedly destroy all of their unsold products at the end of each season, while Hermès never includes Birkins in its sample sales.

That’s why many shoppers are shocked to see in-season items from Gucci, Celine, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy, Fendi and Yves Saint Laurent at Marshalls and TJ Maxx.

These discount stores are not authorized retailers for these brands, so logic says they simply shouldn’t be there.

Sister companies Marshalls, HomeGoods and TJ Maxx are often found on the same streetSister companies Marshalls, HomeGoods and TJ Maxx are often found on the same street (Credit: 2p2play / Shutterstock)

TJX Company stores tend to source their merchandise whenever and wherever they can, as the company’s website claims: “We buy from all types of vendors and take advantage of a wide variety of opportunities, which may include store cancellations. large, a manufacturer that makes too much product, or a lockout arrangement when a seller wants to clear out merchandise at the end of a season, as well as many other ways.”

Fashion ethics and legality watchdog Fashion Law (TFL) theorizes that Marshalls and TJ Maxx should buy these designer goods from department stores that are authorized retailers, such as Nordstrom. However, this would put Nordstrom in breach of contract with designer brands that do not allow their products to be resold or delegated to other retailers.

TFL also speculates that goods from brands such as Christian Dior, which only sell items through their own company stores, may end up in these discount stores via the gray market.

Gray market goods are authentic designer products that do not protect the copyright, trademark or intellectual property of the designer brand. Basically, TJ Maxx and Marshalls may not be authorized to buy these items for resale, but it’s not technically illegal.

Unfortunately, these high-end luxury brands have been completely mum, never giving consumers clues as to how their products ended up at Marshalls and TJ Maxx. However, we do know that after being hit with the aforementioned lawsuit by the CPSC, the TJX Companies and their stores are unlikely to do something so egregious as to knowingly sell their customers counterfeit designer items.

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