Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Marshalls and TJ Maxx Review

OK, OK, I know what you're thinking. "Do these reliable U.S. discount retailers NEED reviewing?" And I kinda thought the same thing. I've been shopping at TJ Maxx and Marshalls since I was small enough to ride in my mom's cart, and thought I knew what I was in for when they sent me a $25 to each store.

Not so, my friends. Not so.

On the way to TJ Maxx, I was carping to Husband Mike in the car. "Whenever the Budget Babe posts about her Marshalls and TJ Maxx finds in New York, I just drool. I mean seriously. The stuff in the Midwest is great, but there's no Prada to be found in our stores."

And what did I see when I waltzed in? A giant Prada handbag on the front table. Right next to racks of See by Chloe, Nannette Lepore, Robert Rodriguez, and Theory. You guys know that I admire designer stuff but don't bankrupt myself in pursuit, especially just for the sake of a label. But these were some of my favorite fancy brands! Elizabeth and James! McQ! Vince! Frye! Kate Spade! I was absolutely floored. Size ranges were spotty and unsurprisingly in the average range only, and prices were no lower than $70 with most in the $150-$300 range, but still. NOT what I expected to find at TJ Maxx.

I didn't see anything I loved that was in my price range amongst the designer duds, so I headed for my discount store standby: Calvin Klein. I nabbed this white sweater bolero with my gift card:

Calvin Klein, $25

And this white dress with my own cashes:

Calvin Klein, $50

The bolero is already well worked into my outfit list, and I know it'll be a staple for spring and summer. The dress is far less practical, but I felt like a pretty, pretty princess in it and have been hoping to find a white dress with some structure. So it came home with me. (It's also a bit big - I was between sizes and went with the larger version, which I'll have tailored.)

The Calvin Klein stuff I see at both stores isn't his high-end line, but it's not the jeans line either. I've sometimes wondered if it's made specifically for these stores, or perhaps shows up in outlets, too. Either way, it always has the same clean, minimalist design aesthetic and the quality is top-notch.

I was surprised and pleased by my experience at TJ Maxx, and will definitely be going back in the near future.

NOW. On to Marshalls.

Oh, Marshalls. I've spent so much time at this chain, both with my mom as a tot and on my own as an adult. And it's pretty much the same now as it was back in the day: A mish-mosh of mid-market and lower goods sold at reasonable prices. My recent visit - which was purposely made to a Marshalls far from my home, so I could be sure there weren't better pickings further afield - showed me that this store is still a little messy, a little dingy, and decidedly overwhelming.

Due to very loose organization of and on the racks I had a harder time spotting brand names that piqued my interest at Marshalls, and the shoes looked picked-over, so I went for workout wear. I'd been meaning to upgrade mine for a while and figured this would be the ideal time. I came home with these two tops, which have already proven FAR superior to my crappy oversized men's tees:

Adidas, $15

Reebok, $10

I'm thrilled with these. Truly. And every bra I've bought has come from Marshalls - again Calvin Klein, at HALF the cost in department stores. So I'm not saying it's a rotten place to spend your dough, by any means. But do I go there to pleasure shop? Nah. It's more of a task-oriented shopping destination for me. They've got a little of everything, including wardrobe basics, so I'll probably find what I'm looking for. But I'd rather hit a thrift store and snag something unique than drop $25 on an only so-so sweater at Marshalls.

Are you a fan of TJ Maxx? Marshalls? Both? Do you shop there to browse, or go for specific items? What do you like or dislike about these chains? Any suggestions for them that I can pass along to the folks who provided these gift cards?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

eShakti Winners

Could it be you? It could! Click to find out if it is.

eShakti Winners

And our lucky $15 eShakti gift certificate winners are:

neighborhoodsupergoddess and Lizzie! Congrats gals!

More giveaways soon, promise.