Tuesday 24 October 2017

TK Maxx: Great place to Maxx out for big freeze

Looking to wrap up warm, be fashionable and save cash? Then get to TK Maxx, says Constance Harris

Modbox dresses, from €26.99; shoes, from €22.99; necklace and socks, stylist's own
Modbox dresses, from €26.99; shoes, from €22.99; necklace and socks, stylist's own
Dress, €69.99; ring, stylist's own; ladies' party bags, from €26.99
Men's blazers from €79.99; men's cardigans from €26.99, men's shirts from €22.99, men's jeans from €26.99; men's belts from €9.99; men's ties from €9.99
Ladies' jackets, from €29.99; ladies' trousers, from €19.99; ladies' underwear (bra), from €9.99; ladies' high-heel shoes, from €22.99

Constance Harris

In this weather, to combat treacherous footpaths and wind-chill factors of minus zero, you need proper boots that are waterproof (Gore-Tex or similar technology, and not necessarily leather, as snow destroys it), quilted coats and gloves, thermal underwear, warm hats and good socks.

A pair of walkers' sticks to help stabilise you, and a proper backpack so your hands are free to keep your body safe, wouldn't go amiss, either.

At the beginning of January this year, when the snows fell, I hit TK Maxx like a dervish scooping up discount-priced hiking boots and thermals for my nearest and dearest to combat the sudden sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice.

Eleven months later, here we are again. And I am back at TK Maxx.

I am a total research nerd when it comes to weather gear -- because you do get what you pay for and you can make costly mistakes.

But TK Maxx can be a saviour to those who are cash- and time-poor because, provided you don't lose your head completely and exercise some caution as to what is good value, there is a huge range of great branded products at reduced prices of up to 60 per cent under the one roof.

I had intended writing about TK Maxx as a great gifts and party-wear destination store today, but the weather has reminded me that it is about so much more than tinsel.

TK Maxx, for those of you who don't know, is an emporium of reduced-price branded gear. Everything, from clothes, toys, furniture, household goods, toiletries, accessories and even chocolates, can be found in its stores.

They get daily deliveries so the offer constantly changes.

TK Maxx has a team of buyers who travel the world in search of stock. They do trend reports, just as other retailers do. The difference is they do their buying from less heard of dealers in unsold stock -- be it a collection which never even hit the shops as a result of a company going bust, or odds and ends of stock that might have been purchased from a department store clearing its stock room. Some designers and brands sell directly to TK Maxx.

"We are an opportunistic buyer. We have our ear to the ground always looking out for great brands at great value for our customers," explains Helen Gunter, head of communications at TK Maxx.

I love the fact that TK Maxx's shop floor is divided up into themed areas, ie sportswear, party dresses, coats, etc, and then subdivided into sizes.

So it is fast work to go through the rails. TK Maxx has a 14-day full refund with receipt policy, which is great. However, I have discovered that if you lose your receipt there is no negotiating an exchange with TK Maxx, unless the goods are faulty.

Modbox is its "fast fashion", trend-driven area, for which, Helen tells me, it has buyers in LA, New York and Paris often purchasing from small boutiques and young, up-and-coming designers.

The Gold Label department is all about high-end branded goods such as Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Alexander McQueen, that may only be from the previous season. Here you could find pieces that were originally priced at €6,000 on sale for €1,000.

There is always a great plus-size section -- a real resource where you can find sexy, colourful, contemporary fashion, as well as investment pieces.

Although it is popular with mothers bargain shopping for their families, I have noticed a lot of men shopping on their own in TK Maxx stores -- the men's wear is particularly strong and great value. I have a pal who is dressed head-to-toe in amazing designer clothes, all of which he gets in TK Maxx.

My son, who is at that dreadful in-between age as regards fashion -- no longer a boy but not yet ready for men's shops -- now permits me to take him shopping in TK Maxx because all looks and sizes can be found. The fact that we have finally been able to buy him some quality, interesting clothes at affordable prices has improved his sense of himself, as he is now finally dressed well and likes it. He is very happy -- thus so am I!

"Our buyers are mindful of special needs -- be it confirmations and communions to party wear," says Helen. "The heart of everything we do is that we always have something for everybody. We want to bring fashion and style to all sizes from size 8 to plus sizes. We celebrate all people of all ages."

There are 16 TK Maxx stores in the Republic and 10 in Northern Ireland. They employ about 1,200 people in Ireland. The company recently opened a store in Waterford, creating 80 jobs.

"We also have a very strong scheme in which graduates join our team and work primarily in merchandising. Many of them go on to work in other areas. It's so hard to get your foot in the door in this business so it all really does help."

It really does.

All clothes featured are from TK Maxx nationwide, however, they may be sold already due to

the constant updating of their stock.

TK Maxx has branches in Dublin in Carrickmines, Blanchardstown, Swords and St Stephen’s

Green. Also Drogheda, Letterkenny, Sligo, Galway, Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Kilkenny,

Newbridge, Portlaoise, Arklow. See www.tkmaxx.com for more information.

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