The confessions of a TJ Maxxinista


Shavonne Chin

Illustration by

Melina Khan, Editor-in-Chief

While some people favor activities like hiking or yoga to clear their head after a difficult day, my preferred stress relief comes in the form of taking a leisurely walk and making a superfluous purchase at my local TJ Maxx.

Though the phrase is often used playfully, research has shown that “retail therapy” is a real thing. According to a 2011 study in the Psychology & Marketing journal, retail therapy is a consumer behavior that works to repair a bad mood.

As college students who are faced with busy schedules between academics, clubs and jobs, it’s not uncommon to fall into a bad mood because of life’s stressors. When the going gets tough, taking the time to treat yourself with a relaxing visit to your favorite store and maybe making an unnecessary purchase can sometimes be exactly what you need to boost your mood.

I’m not talking about impulse buying, defined by The Economic Times as “the tendency of a customer to buy goods and services without planning in advance.”

In today’s online age, it’s easy to log on to your favorite retail site and buy an item you might later regret with a few quick clicks. Rather, I’m talking about the value of physically traveling to your favorite store to shop — or if you prefer, window shop.

Pre-pandemic, I was not a regular shopper. I thought spending my energy walking around a store when I could buy the same items online was a waste of time. Then, after spending copious amounts of time on my couch and picking up numerous Amazon Prime packages from my front steps over the past two years, I began to long for the in-person shopping experience. There is an inarguable value to being able to physically see the items you are interested in purchasing before doing so.

For me, the dullness in online shopping during the at-home era is where my love for TJ Maxx and Marshalls (a TJ Maxx sister store) began. If you’ve ever been to one of the stores, both owned by the TJX Companies, you know that there is no shopping experience like it.

Regardless of where you are in the country, if you walk into any of the roughly 2,500 locations nationwide (per a 2022 analysis from Statista), you are guaranteed to find high-quality items at low prices. Some TJ Maxx locations even have specialized sections called The Runway for designer clothing and accessory items at discounted prices.

Personally, I will never be shopping for $100 leggings at Lululemon when I can find $20 dupes for the same leggings at TJ Maxx. As someone with expensive taste on a limited budget, patronizing TJ Maxx and Marshalls allows me to get my shopping fix without breaking the bank.

Moreover, what makes the shopping experience unique at a TJ Maxx or Marshalls location is reliability. While the products change, what remains the same is the wide-ranging selection of everything from clothes, jewelry and shoes to handbags, iPhone cases and non-perishable food items. Also, you can always count on the dressing rooms to have lighting that’s almost too good.

Anything in excess is not a good thing, and shopping is no different. It’s important to be responsible with where you choose to spend your hard-earned money, but splurging on yourself when you need a pick-me-up is not necessarily a bad thing either. That’s where I find a middle ground in shopping at TJ Maxx or Marshalls, because I know I can buy something I will actually enjoy without spending in excess.

If you’re like me and appreciate a new pair of shoes as a mood booster but also want to spend in moderation, I encourage you to head to your local TJX store to see what the hype is about. If you’re not an avid shopper, take it from me that finding an outlet to cheer you up will make it easier when the stress piles up.

While you enjoy your hikes, I’ll be in my Maxxinista era.