Before You Go to IKEA, Go Here!

taking fountain los angeles shopping tips tj maxx marshalls homegoods-1.jpg

I think my dad is to blame for instilling in me a deep-seated "If You Bought It On Sale You Basically Made Money" mentality. There's something about getting a high-quality product for an IKEA price that just gets me going.

Which is why TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods are three of my very favorite places to shop for home essentials, pet supplies, furniture, and even clothing!

If you've got a preconceived notion about these stores, pleeeeeease bear with me for just a sec. Let me try to convince you that at the very least you should check out these stores before buying all your kitchen utensils at IKEA like a college freshman. And at the end of this post, you can see what I purchased and how much it would have cost me elsewhere!

Let's talk about the clothing issue first and get that out of the way...

Clothes: Not Just Mismatched Socks

You may be under the impression that TJ Maxx and/or Marshalls are discount clothing stores stocked with damaged goods or cheap knock-offs that you wouldn't purchase unless you were literally down to your last dime. THINK AGAIN, MY FRIEND.

Yes, the OVERWHELMING majority of the items you can find there are of underwhelming quality, and yes, Nordstrom Rack is still my go-to discount clothing store. BUT, don't write off TJ Maxx and Marshalls right away--I started flipping through the very first rack in the Burbank TJ Maxx and came across an adorable Missoni dress, originally $450 but marked down to $180. The downside, of course, is that they had ONE Missoni dress, and it wasn't in my size. Sadface. But the day was saved when I found a Cloth & Stone sleeveless chambray button-down (see above) in my size for $40 (retails at Anthropologie for almost $100).

You really do have to hunt for crazy deals like this, though, and I've found the shoes/handbags/lingerie departments of TJ Maxx and Marshall's to be lacking (again, this is why I heartily endorse Nordstrom Rack).

But seriously, the clothes are just a bonus. I go to TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods to shop for LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE EXCEPT GROCERIES (ok sometimes even some groceries...keep reading).

Home Goods at HomeGoods! (And TJ Maxx. And Marshalls.)

Furnishing your abode can be brutal on the bank account. I mean, all the little things you Really Should Have in your kitchen or bathroom or whatever really do add up. But if you start at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or HomeGoods, you'll find a bunch of great stuff that is way better quality than IKEA and a heckuva lot cheaper than just paying full-price at the good ol' Bed Bath & Beyond.

Cute little soap dispensers and Kleenex box holders!

Cute little soap dispensers and Kleenex box holders!

DKNY towels!

DKNY towels!

Get this at TJ's, not TJ Maxx!

Let's start in the bathroom. If you were just to drop by Bed Bath & Beyond, those stupid matching soap dispensers/toothbrush holder sets can be insultingly expensive. At TJ Maxx/Marshalls/HomeGoods? Half the price. Yes, your selection is limited, but I've always found something that was just right. And look at all these towels!! They've also got all those other bathroom necessities you realize you need after you move in--toilet paper holders, shower curtains, little trash cans that fit next to the toilet. They even have a tremendous selection of toiletries--hand and body soaps, hair products, etc.

But keep your eyes peeled and try to remember what you normally pay for your favorite products elsewhere, because it might actually be MORE expensive. For example, I found a bottle of Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap that was $15...$4 more expensive than at my local Trader Joe's.

But the real jackpot here is the kitchen section. Seriously, it's like an entire BB&B puked into four or five aisles. Which, yes, can be intimidating to wade through. But don't lose heart! Look at the Lodge cast-iron skillets for $10-15 off regular retail! Save a few bucks here or there on all the little things that make up a kitchen (like Pyrex measuring cups) and suddenly you'll probably have enough to pick up that Missoni dress, too. And the quality here blows the kitchenware department of IKEA out of the water. You can buy entire Calphalon pots/pans sets, Mikasa dish sets, even glassware like Riedel!

*Sidenote: Seriously though, you MUST compare prices! While you can find some AMAZING deals, some prices aren't that much better. A 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup at TJ Maxx is $6, but at BB&B it's only $6.79 (at least online)--if you use a coupon, it ends up being cheaper at BB&B. But I have seen a $350 pot set on clearance at TJ Maxx for $100, and even a coupon can't beat that price.

There's a ton of almond milk on that bottom shelf!

And remember how I said sometimes I get groceries here? The more adventurous deal-seekers amongst you should definitely check out the food/spices aisle. This picture was taken at a TJ Maxx, and that's about the extent of their selection. But the food section at HomeGoods is frequently two or three entire aisles.

Personally, I don't really purchase perishable stuff like crackers and cookies from these stores. Non-perishables? Different story! You can find dry rubs, bread dipping spices, rock salt, and different kinds of gourmet pastas at a great discount. If you don't mind some careful sticker removal, it's a great place to put together a gift basket (maybe not for your best friend or significant other, but definitely for your boss).


Furniture and Decor; or Don't Get the Same IKEA Nightstand That All Your Neighbors Have

I know, I know--who buys furniture at TJ Maxx or Marshalls?? But if you're gonna buy IKEA stuff, you may as well see what's in stock at TJ Maxx and Marshalls first, and ABSOLUTELY check out HomeGoods! I've seen some cute accent tables, lamps, and even rugs here. Again--do some price-comparing online, but I feel like the prices are fairly competitive. For example, the turquoise dresser below was on sale at HomeGoods for $117--I've seen pieces very similar sell for much more at boutiques like This Is Not Ikea! And obviously, you won't find anything with this much personality at IKEA.

Now, is this stuff you're gonna pass on to your children? Nope. But is it stuff you could resell on Craigslist and not lose a ton of money (ahem, IKEA)? YOU BETCHA.

Discounts for Doggy, Too!

My very favorite part of the TJ Maxx/Marshalls/HomeGoods experience, however, is the pet aisle. Yep--they sell pet supplies!! Don't spend $100 on a dog bed at Petco--choose from the vast selection at TJ Maxx for half the price. They also have an entire toy and treat aisle; I would say roughly half the toys/treats are brands I've never heard of and of quality I'm skeptical about, but the other half are the same high-quality goods you'd find at your neighborhood pet store (Chuckit, Nylabone, etc.). You could even bring Puppy along to pick out his own toys--according to BarkPost, TJ Maxx/Marshalls/HomeGoods are dog-friendly!! Make sure your pup is leashed, and they may be asked to ride in a cart, but they are totally allowed.

Dog beds as far as the eye can see!

Dog beds as far as the eye can see!

More toys and treats than Puppy will know what to do with.

More toys and treats than Puppy will know what to do with.

I hope I've convinced you that you should check out these stores before paying full-price elsewhere. Since I can't set foot in these stores without buying stuff, here are my haul photos from this particular excursion (justifying these purchases as Material For My Blog):

TJ Maxx and Marshalls

TJ Maxx and Marshalls



So, according to my dad, I made $153.85 by going shopping at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods! Sigh. It was a good day.

Do you have a favorite discount store I should check out? You KNOW how much I love a good deal--leave me a tip in the comments section below!