Laura Cervone T.J. Maxx Fashion Consultant

With over 580 stores across the U.S., T.J. Maxx wields considerable influence in the retail fashion business.
Founded in March 1976, T.J. Maxx has seen 19 years of sales growth. Sales for 1995 were $3 billion dollars.
Who makes the decisions about the clothes you see on the racks at T.J. Maxx?
That’s just one of the questions we put to T.J. Maxx Fashion Consultant Laura Cervone.

Q – Laura, what exactly is your job at T.J. Maxx?
A – I am the Media Relations Supervisor and also I deal with all aspects of media relations whether it be national magazines or regional newspapers.

Q – You’ve been in that position for how long now?
A – A year and a half.

Q – Did you come up through the ranks at T.J. Maxx?
A – No, I didn’t. I came from another company, in advertising, doing publicity.

Q – How does T.J. Maxx decide what clothes are going to make it onto their racks?
A – We have buyers, buying merchandise for the largest off-price chain in the country. So, they’re buying for over 600 stores. That gives them pretty significant buying power in the retail marketplace. So, they buy large quantities from the hottest vendors around. We Work with over 15,000vendors internationally, as well as domestically.

Q – Who do you regard as competition?
A – Any other off-price retailer. Well, really anybody is competition, because anybody requires shoppers to go to their store. So any other store is considered competition whether it be a department store or specialty store or another off-price store.

Q – You wouldn’t be competing with Bon-Ton, Lord and Taylor or Kaufmann’s would you?
A – Definitely. They all sell brand name designer merchandise like we do. So, it’s all considered competition.

Q – Do you know early on if a certain fashion is going over well?
A – Definitely. .

Q – How long do you give an item to determine its fate?
A – We usually give things a season. We receive over 10,000 items of new merchandise a week, so we constantly have a fresh flow of merchandise coming into the store, so if something isn’t selling, then it goes on clearance, and if it doesn’t sell, then that’s the end of it. It’s pulled from the shelf.

Q – You’ve got 577 stores in 47 states.
A – Correct.

Q – What states are you not represented in?
A – Let’s see, Hawaii, Wyoming and Alaska.

Q – I would imagine you’ll be opening stores in those states in the not too distant future?
A – Well, we’re always looking for new opportunities, sure.

Q – Just how influential is T.J. Maxx in say, setting fashion trends?
A – We sell brand name and designer merchandise, the same that is sold in department or specialty stores, only for a lot less. So, it’s items that are already out there. Our excitement is that we offer it at a lower price.

Q – Who founded T.J. Maxx?
A – Ben Cammarata. He’s our president and CEO.

Q – Why the name T.J. Maxx?
A – It was really completely random. They were just tossing things back and forth. They liked T.J. They thought it flowed, and they were just trying to think of another word that went with it, and they came up with Maxx.

Q – Are the clothes of the 1970’s making a comeback? I believe they refer to it as the retro look.
A – That was sort of last year’s story. They started really influencing fashion last year. The styles are definitely continuing for this year. But, I think the whole look has sort of assimilated itself into fashion. So, it’s really the look for the time, rather than necessarily a whole new look. ,

Q – What trends are you seeing as we go to press?
A – I think people are really into brand name, designer merchandise. They want the names that they trust. So, they are looking for the designers. They believe a lot of that is quality merchandise, so that’s what they’re looking for, whether it be a man or woman. Comfort as well as style is also in. Fabrics like chenille, corduroy, velvet, velour are very popular. Colors. A lot of earth tones are in for Fall. Brown is very popular in every shade. You can imagine, chocolate brown, caramel khaki, tan, camel. All of green, as Well as eggplant, burnt orange. A lot of Fall colors are very popular this season. Skirt lengths certainly vary. Above the knee seems to be the most popular look for women. But, in different regions of the country, it could go shorter or longer, depending on if you’re going to work or going to a nightclub. I think it really varies. In fashion, people want to look as stylish as possible, but I think they want to be able to afford everything, and I think the best way to be able to do it, is to shop at a store like T.J. Maxx, Where you can get the styles you want at the prices you can afford.

Official Site: TJ Maxx

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