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Shopping at Close-Out Stores
Close-out stores vary by location.
I'm in the Northeast United States. The stores I will talk about in this article are the chains that are most frequently found in my area that I have personally shopped at.
Difference between regular retail stores and close-out stores.
When I first started writing this article, I was of the opinion that TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls and stores like it were all close-out stores.
I was prepared to write a summary of each store based on my unresearched opinion that these stores provided great deals on name brand merchandise because they bought close-out specials from neighboring retail chains.
Having done research in order to write this article, I have since learned that my opinion is quire contradictory to the actual service you get when purchasing products from any one of these famed chain retailers.
In fact, they are far more than what I would consider to be a "close-out" store.
It's a well-known fact that retail stores, both chain stores and mom-and-pop types, buy directly from manufacturers. Some retail stores create their own brand as well to offer customers an economical version of the brand-name item.
Such is the case of the grocery store by my home. Paper towels on their shelves labeled by a leading brand in the industry will cost about $1-$2 per roll. The grocery store offers their own brand for 50 cents a roll or two rolls for $1.00.
Initially, before beginning to write this article, I was under the impression that a close-out store purchases liquidation items in bulk through other retailers. For example, if a well-known retail chain decides to discontinue a certain product, a close-out store would be called in to buy up all of the leftovers to sell in their own chain for a much cheaper price. In other words, I thought that close-out stores didn't have direct suppliers because all of their goods were bought through other retailers.
Here's an example of how I thought a close-out store purchased products to re-sell:
Most people do not have enough money (capital) saved away to hire a company to create products specifically for them as most large retail giants do.
Small internet sellers do not necessarily have to go to a manufacturer and purchase directly to make a nice living selling online.
The big giant retailers do that already. Small sellers can purchase new items from retailers during clearance sale events.
Case study in point: Cassidy was a great friend of mine who sold on eBay until she re-married and started working for her husband's company. Cassidy had 5,000 eBay listings all the time and made a good living for herself. She worked very hard, but her long work hours paid off. Her secret was simple. She sold a particular clothing item marketed toward tweens. Cassidy had made an agreement with a local store in her town that at the end of every month, before the store would mark down the merchandise and leave them for sale on clearance racks, Cassidy would purchase everything for a specific dollar amount. Cassidy got a bargain. She saved time by not having to hunt for a supplier. The store got a great deal and saved money by not discounting the items any further to the general public, and they cleared out shelving to display more products for sale.
In this example, Cassidy was the liquidator or the close-out specialist for this particular store.
This was going to be my point in writing this article. This is what I thought close-out stores do.
Much to my surprise, I learned something new! All of these stores that people, including myself, think of as close-out stores aren't necessarily that at all.
While it's true, some of the merchandise a lot of these stores get appear to be from other stores, the "close-out" stores hire buyers to go to other countries to get merchandise straight from the manufacturer or a supplier. Two situations dictate what a "close-out" store will haul back to re-sell to their customers:
- A regular retail store placed an order that it no longer wants; or
- The manufacturer made too many products in excess and needed to sell them to a store that would take them in bulk.
A few of the designer kitchen accessories on display at TJ Maxx.
TJ Maxx Regularly Stocks:
Linens and towels
Brand name fashions for men and women
Perfume, bath and body products (including hair care)
Food, coffee, and tea
TJ Maxx supports a good cause!
TJ Maxx supports Joslin Diabetes Center!
Joslin Diabetes Center helps diabetes and thyroid patients! Way to go TJ Maxx for supporting this institution. The Joslin Diabetes Center helped me through thyroid surgery.
TJ Maxx Stores
We have a few TJ Maxx stores in my area.
I have really happy memories of shopping at TJ Maxx with my great-aunt Ruby when I was a young girl.
Ruby was from West Virginia and she loved bargain shopping. She passed away almost a decade ago around 90 years old, and every time I drive by a TJ Maxx, I think of her.
She got me hooked on wallets. I used to have to buy a wallet, purse and matching shoes for every outfit I owned!
I worked in retail when I was a teenager. I had a TJ Maxx near where I worked. On breaks and after work, I would head over there and sift through their giant table of wallets organized by color, style and brand. What a fun shopping memory!
TJ Maxx still offers an incredible selection of handbags and purses, but wallets not so much like I remember from years ago.
I made friends with a TJ Maxx sales manager and asked her where TJ Maxx gets their merchandise? They have so many different brands, mostly name-brand merchandise, and how do they get so much of it? Why is the inventory constantly changing?
TJ Maxx is one of those stores, if you see it buy it then. It's not guaranteed to be there tomorrow.
So what's their secret? Sources told me that unlike typical liquidation companies that offer to buy clearance items off of the shelves at big giant retail stores, TJ Maxx sends buyers to snatch up surplus directly. This means they go right to the initial supplier and buy up everything that was over-manufactured or items other retail stores won't buy.
My interests include craft supplies for scrapbooking. One time I went to TJ Maxx and came upon an aisle full of adhesives that I typically have on hand. I didn't buy any at the bargain price of $4.99 thinking I could wait and get it for that price elsewhere. To my dismay, the local retail store offered the cheapest package of the same adhesive for $12.99. Realizing my mistake of not stocking up, I went back to TJ Maxx and it was all gone. Someone else got the bargain that I passed up.
I often shop at TJ Maxx for Christmas presents and recipients have never been disappointed in the selection or quality of gifts I've bought them.
Home Goods Stores Regularly Stock:
Furniture (dressers, couches, chairs, ottomans, storage, children's room furniture, craft room furniture) and lamps.
Linens and Towels
Mirros, home decorations (seasonal too)
Pet beds and other accessories
Kitchen gadgets, decor, and accessories
Home Goods is a subsidiary store of TJ Maxx.
I love shopping at Home Goods. While I don't often have the time to casually browse through all of the incredibly unique items Home Goods has to offer, it's one of my secret favorite places to shop when I need to find that one perfect thing no other retail store has in stock.
When I go to Home Goods, I usually set aside a couple of hours to shop there. I just can't get enough of the unique line of items they sell in so many categories.
Starting in the front of the store, I am guaranteed to find the perfect housewarming gift in the glassware section. Unique cake plates, cupcake baker's paradise, and other unique kitchen gadgets that I can't find at a regular retail store.
The pet aisle is filled with unique and interesting pet accessories. I can't decide between the princess dog bed or the chaise lounge.
The toy aisle will delight everyone with an inner child. Last time I was there, I found retired Playmobile sets for my son for $5 a set! The local toy store in town charges four times that price for retired sets! (It wasn't a large selection, but I got a great deal on what they had in stock!)
Heading over to the office section, I am just mesmerized by the delightful matching desk top accessories. Paper holders and pretty desk accessories. I'm always inspired by their unique and colorful designs. It makes me want to rush home and re-design an entire room in my house just to have somewhere to put all their fancy stuff!
Holidays at Home Goods is a truly wonderful shopping experience. After experiencing a flood years ago, I was left with nothing to decorate for Christmas. I stopped in Home Goods after work and couldn't believe my eyes! Aisle after aisle of all of the latest décor in home decorating. I felt like I just stepped in a virtual Better Homes and Gardens magazine! Coming home with the life-size vintage inspired Santa was interesting. He sat upright in my truck in the front seat, while the other bags filled the back. For under $100, I decorated my entire house, including ornaments for two artificial trees, wintergreens for a staircase, nutcrackers for a fireplace mantel, and enough ornaments for a large real blue spruce! Most people collect Christmas décor and ornaments over a period of time. What made that Christmas unique were the items I found to decorate with. They could not be found anywhere else except at expensive boutique style stores that would have cost me a small fortune had I tried to purchase all the same items from them instead.
Burlington Coat Factory sells baby furniture in their baby depot department.
Burlington Coat Factory Regularly Stocks:
Career wear including business suits for men and women
Handbags and wallets
Housewares and accessories
Linens, bath products and accessories
Baby clothing, furniture and maternity wear
Children's clothing including special occasion dresses and suits
Burlington Coat Factory
Burlington Coat Factory has been in our area for years.
As a child, I remember going to school with a friend whose mother dressed her in the prettiest dresses. Big poofy pink dresses fit for a princess. These dresses were nowhere else to be found, and the internet had not been invented at that time.
I often envied the way my friend was dressed for school. I was a tom girl but on occasion would prefer a dress to my overalls and sneakers.
The truth of the matter was my family would never bring me to Burlington Coat Factory because there was a betting place in the same shopping plaza. They didn't want me corrupted at an innocent age and shopped at the local Caldor, Ames and Bradlees instead. (I'm really dating myself here now!)
The betting place has since left town. When I had my children, I began shopping at Burlington Coat Factory. Times have definitely changed. While they never used to offer returns, they do have a return policy now. (That was one complaint I consistently heard from a lot of people so I'm glad they've agreed to accept returns.)
A few years ago, I walked in to a Burlington Coat Factory and my timing was impeccable. I stumbled upon a 70% off sale. I filled two carts full of clothing for my children. At those prices I was able to shop ahead and buy them each a wardrobe for the future years!
Burlington Coat Factory is more than just coats. They offer designer clothing, career wears, men's suits, shoes, everything baby from clothing to furniture, toys, jewelry, housewares, linens, and bath items.
Marshalls Regularly Stocks:
Kitchen gadgets and cooking equipment
Mens and women's clothing
Cosmetics and perfume
I just learned something new while researching the information for this article.
Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Home Goods are all part of the same company TJX Companies.
That explains why my shopping experience at all three of these places has never been disappointing.
While I often have gone to look for something specific and not found it, I have always been pleased with whatever I do purchase.
From their company statement, their mission is to sell a rapidly changing assortment of goods at deep discounts!
According to TJX Companies, they employee almost 180,000 people! Way to go!
I always like shopping at Marshalls because they carry yet still a variety of different goods that can't be found at similar stores.
My favorite part of Marshall is the cooking section.
Ocean State Job Lot Regularly Stocks:
Food, spices, coffee, tea, baking products
Cosmetics, hair care, toiletries, dental products
Kitchen gadgets, baking items, disposable baking pans
Craft and Art Supplies
Rugs, linens, towels
Clothing, shoes, socks
Books and office supplies
Artificial flowers and live plants
Seasonal merchandise (summer, back-to-school, Christmas)
Ocean State Job Lot
Ocean State Job Lot is a close-out company. Named after the State of Rhode Island (Ocean State) because it's where the company opened their first store.
Ocean State Job Lot sends a weekly circular with specials. They often cannot put the name of the designer in their ads, but a few weeks ago I bought an Old Navy shirt for $4 at Ocean State Job Lot and it's one of my favorite shirts.
They also sell craft fair vending displays such as canopies and summer gazebos.
They have a huge selection of summer goods ranging from beach toys, lawn chairs, lawn furniture, to backyard swimming pools and supplies. They sell pool shock and everything you need for a barbecue.
They have aisles designated to toiletries, cosmetics, bath and body products. You can find all kinds of gadgets, dishes, and disposable baking pans and goodies in the back of their home aisle.
They have a large selection of pet items such as dog beds, bird cages, treats, food, and toys.
I was recently referred to Ocean State Job Lot for gluten-free baking products!
People commonly refer to these stores as selling close-out merchandise, including myself until I wrote this article!
I think the common theory is that these stores can sell products at a cheaper price than the brand-name label because they buy discounted merchandise from other stores.
This is understandable because even I have seen stickers on certain items at any one of these stores with the name of another retail chain. But it appears from what sources say that these stores get products directly from the supplier on occasions when the originally intended store decides not to purchase the product and the supplier is left with excess. (Even if they did get some of their merchandise from other stores, my point here is that they are not 100% liquidation companies.)
The reason this information is important to understand is because I know people, friends and relatives, that will not shop at any one of these stores because they have perceived that all the inventory is some how second-hand, being put in to these stores to liquidate for the original company.
What I have discovered in writing this article is that these stores work just as hard and employ a lot of people to find bargains directly through suppliers and manufacturers to bring the best deal to their customers.
I find shopping at these stores to be fun. I always save money and find unique items I have never seen elsewhere.
In conclusion, the term close-out store does not prevent me from enjoying a truly unique shopping experience.