Boston-based off-price retailer TJX (home of the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls chains) invited the nation’s top fashion blogs to participate in a two-day event at their buying headquarters last week. The goal of the event was to share the company’s business model and strategy with the fashion blogosphere. Flattered and intrigued, the YLF team set off for the East Coast to hear TJX and meet fellow fashion bloggers.

First introductions between bloggers, Ogilvy Public Relations and TJX were made in the lobby of Boston’s palatial Fairmont Copley Plaza, where we stayed for the duration of the event. We met fashion bloggers from The Budget Babe, The Budget Fashionista, Nitro:licious, Shoe Smitten, Stiletto Jungle, Broke and Beautiful, Second City Style, 55 Secret Street, My Fashion Life, Mom Central and Style Hive as we walked over to Skipjacks for a casual evening of getting to know who’s who. People were dressed to impress (loads of black and cream, fabulous boots, statement coats and designer bags). After all, this was a fashion occasion and your style quotient had to be top notch.

Early the next morning a bus took us off to TJX headquarters in Framingham, MA, where we enjoyed a full day of education and hospitality. The agenda included interactive sessions with corporate marketing teams, a preview of holiday lines, a Q&A with the President (Michael MacMillan), a fashion show, “guess the price of this item” competitions, merchandise tours and store visits. The event was fun, informative and superbly run.

Splurge and Steal Fashion Show

The “splurge and steal” fashion show (above) was a great way to see how ensembles from T.J Maxx and Marshalls could stand their ground against much more expensive options from full price department stores. Click the picture to see a larger version of the ensembles on the right and let us know in the comments which you think is which.

We learned a lot about TJX in the process. For example, one of their biggest challenges is the perception that budget store + low prices = low quality. Although their more than 1600 T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores cut costs to the bone, many of the items are high end, sometimes even couture brands. More than 85% of the merchandise is from the current season, and less than 5% is irregular. TJX buyers work hard all year round to find great deals, and the result is a rapidly changing range that varies from store to store. Although the stores can be hard to navigate, there are fantastic bargains hidden on the rails.


Bloggers enjoy a sneak peek at some of the upcoming TJX Winter merchandise.

No matter what your budget, everyone loves a bargain which means that T.J. Maxx and Marshalls should thrive in our tough economic climate. Their Fall marketing campaign “this season, smart shopping is the new black” tickled my toes. If you’re an expert merchandise scanner and can see past an untidy and less than glamorous shopping experience, you’ll score treasures at half the price for sure. You might even enjoy the treasure hunt.

Thank you for the entries to Friday’s TJX competition. We are evaluating your thoughtful suggestions on the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls shopping experience and will announce the winner after Thanksgiving.