Love how everyone’s jumping on this bargain shopping bandwagon now that times are tough. I’ve got a confession – I have been a bargain shopper for years. And my family totally knows that every year, their presents have been bought at a discount store.
I’ve become so very particular when I shop.
I ask myself the same question about every item I pick up — do I LIKE it, or do I LOVE it? Do I NEED it, or do I WANT it? And how often will I use it, really?
I realize in the days when I was spending foolishly, I bought a whole lot of crap that I liked and wanted, rather than needed and loved. So I kept that mantra firmly in mind during my last visit to Marshalls. I was invited to check out their store within a store, called The Cube. Not every Marshalls has one. So I used the store locator, found one in my neighborhood and hit it up. And I realized something real quick.
I am getting O-L-D.
The Cube is all about shiny shiny shiny, pink pink pink, glittery prints, pageboy hats, kitschy socks, and Nickleback merging into fastpaced dance music. Oh yes, the section in the middle of Marshalls has its own soundtrack, its own special flooring — it looks like a mini store designed by Hannah Montana has been plunked into the middle of Marshalls. And nothing is plus size. Hello – there are plus size juniors! Where are they supposed to shop?
I decided to give it a go, and The Cube yielded some funky results and sweet accessories once I looked past the big puffy red plastic House of Deadwrong jackets and oversized bandanas. I left The Cube with an item I LOVE – a bold, big Kermit the Frog green Marc Ecko purse. $35.
Marc Ecko, please know that Afrobella loves you.
My pretty new purse cost $35, and it was just as classic and chic and functional as a Coach bag I saw there for $300.
Oh yes, there are Coach bags at Marshalls now. I was shocked.
The brands have become more luxe as fancypants retailers get more and more in the tank. Right now at Marshalls and TJ Maxx, you can find Coach bags and Prada wallets and Michael Kors jackets. It’s astonishing. But if you’re restricted to a $50 or $100 shop-a-thon, you still can’t get what you want, if you desire enviable designer labels. And to this bella on a budget, it was kind of disconcerting to discover a $250 purse nestled among the bargains. I seriously LOLed at myself (this older lady in the purse aisle must have thought I was nutso) when seriously every purse I pulled out was way out of my price league. What can I say? Apparently I have expensive taste.
After experiencing The Cube and the big brands in the shoe and handbag departments, I was underwhelmed by the plus size department at Marshalls. I don’t get how retailers haven’t figured out that the average American woman is a size 14, and fuller figured gals need to look cute too. I scoured the paltry four racks of garments and emerged with a gold Anne Klein sweater for $25. It kind of toed the line between Bea Arthur and Christmas party chic, but I was looking for holidazzle, it looked cute when I tried it on, and I worked it. (hat tip to my old coworker Lyssa the Calendar Girl for that one!)
I wasn’t able to complete my holiday shopping at Marshalls, so I decided to hit up their sister store.
At TJ Maxx the plus size clothing selection wasn’t much better, but I was delighted with the selection of beauty box sets. My aunties never get on the computer, so this won’t be a spoiler, so I’ll tell you. I got a beautiful Tutti Dolce gift set and a lovely Laura Ashley bath product set for quite affordable prices.
Sections of TJ Maxx were truly stellar, and I basically completed most of my holiday shopping there. OMG, handbags and home items, like cookware and holiday decor, they had some amazing stuff. Including the flame top tagine I want so very, very much, which was on sale for a drastically reduced price. But the store I visited needed major work to make it an enjoyable shopping experience. In general, discount stores vary wildly by location. So note to self, the TJ Maxx on 136th isn’t the best I can do.
Between the two stores, I was able to scare up quite a selection of gifts for my family. But TJ Maxx and Marshalls should take note of the competition. Ross has stepped up their clothing game — the one in downtown Miami nearest my office has expanded into an awesome two story megastore, the top floor entirely devoted to women’s clothes and shoes. Their plus size department is off the chain, and I always see lots and lots of shoppers there. Coincidence?
Where have you been doing your holiday shopping, bellas? Are you almost through, or still have much to do?