TJ Maxx Honolulu Underwhelms...

10:26 PM

Photo taken PRE Grand Opening courtesy of PBN
Hawai'i is beautiful indeed.  The tropical weather, sunshine, blue water and green vegetation are a wonderful sight to behold.  Living on an island, however, poses it's challenges because of lack of space and the cost of rent for retailers.  In recent years Hawai'i has gotten quite a few chains here like Whole Foods, Target, Best Buy, and Forever 21 that we lacked before.  There are still some stores that have yet to venture to the 50th state though I wish they would.   The Container Store, Trader Joes, Kohls, Staples, Pottery Barn, Bed Bath and Beyond (technically we have one and it's small, cramped and lacking the stock and options of other mainland locations), Lane Bryant, and H&M come to mind when I think of stores that we don't have here yet that I'd love to spend my hard earned money at.

Until recently, TJ Maxx was on that wishlist of stores that I wanted to come here.  On Thursday May 3, 2012 the first of 3 TJ Maxx locations opened here and I was so excited to go visit the store because it took a rather large space and I wanted to see if it was as amazing as other TJ Maxx locations I visited in Washington and California when I was on vacation.  I didn't get to go until a week later which was fine with me because the crowds of curious shoppers had slowed down.  

Here are the specs of the Honolulu TJ Maxx location:
TJ Maxx opened its first Hawaii store in 16 years at the Ward Village Shops on Thursday.
The 35,000 square-foot store is the first of three new TJ Maxx stores that the Massachusetts-based TJX Cos. (TJX) plan to open in Hawaii this month.
TJ Maxx will open a 25,000 square-foot store at Pearl City Gateway on May 10, and a 24,850 square-foot stare at Pearlridge Center in Aiea on May 17.
“We are pleased to expand our store base to Hawaii, delivering value and an exciting selection of fashion to serve the needs of Hawaii customers,” TJX President Richard Sherr said in a statement.
I walked in the brightly lit store to see a huge space filled with colorful clothes and I have to admit, I wanted to jump with excitement.  As I browsed, I saw some great brands and some good deals but was somewhat disappointed at the selection.  There were a few key brands there like Calvin Klein, and Joie (both of which I love) but for the most part, it was a mess of different brands sloppily thrown together on racks.  For those of you who don't know me, I'm not a skinny chick.  I wish I was thinner but I'm considered "plus sized".  I browsed and found a few lovely dresses and shirts that I liked...in a size small or medium.  Yeah. Whomp whomp whomp!!   

I inquired with an employee who told me that they don't have some sizes in a lot of clothes for some reason (she didn't know) and that they did have a "plus sized section" and she seemed proud of it and took me there.  Now to be clear, "plus sized" to TJ Maxx is XL-XXL and I think the pant size goes up to 22.  Calling this rack of clothes a "section" was a joke.  It was literally 1 rack with 2 sides about the length of a Schwinn bicycle and that's it.  The clothes on that rack were not designer and not cute (which doesn't surprise me as there aren't many plus sized outfits I'd consider cute).  Oh well, so I moved on and searched for my mom (whom isn't plus sized) and she was browsing the racks.  If you're a size XS-M you are going to LOVE this store.  If you're a large, you might find some cute stuff but if you're XL or bigger, skip it.  

There was a men's section which was ok I guess.  Nothing special.  There was a kids clothing section which was small and limited but had a few cute things but nothing special.  I know this is Hawai'i but there was a swimwear section that was much larger than it needed to be and the suits weren't worth the price.  The "toys" section was small, limited and sad.  On a positive note, they had some good deals on a limited amount of hair products and perfume.  

I don't know, I just didn't like this store.  We have a lot of Ross' stores here and they're dusty and disorganized too but they have a lot more for people of varying sizes.  TJ Maxx had a few more brand name designers but Nordstrom Rack offers similar pricing and better designers.  I just think that this specific TJ Maxx was a fail.  Nothing special whatsover and the "deals" were not very impressive.  

Honestly, I really wanted to like this store.  I really did.  The buyers of this store need to get a clue.  They think they have a handle on "Hawai'i customers" but they don't.  Not everyone in Hawai'i is a size 8 and below.  For some reason they seem to be under the impression that the tourists that come here are all waifs which is very far from the truth.  I've seen quite a few big girls cruising down Waikiki.  

Bottom line, if TJ Maxx Honolulu wants to stay in business, they're going to need to regroup and really think about the main demographic that shops there.  The majority of locals here are between a size 6 and a size 20.  There are some very skinny girls here as well but buying for primarily size 0 isn't going to impress the "average" sized girl or the "plus sized girl".  I also think that they have a lot of random stuff there that doesn't need to be.  They have one small lane of "housewares" that they could easily lose and fill with more clothes and as a result, gain more customers.  

I know some of you are going to read this and disagree and yes, I know they're brand new and have to get their groove on and figure out what sells and all of that but as of right now, they need to readjust their target audience and the buyers need to really think about what REAL women want.  They should consult the TJ Maxx near South Center in Washington State.  That store was amazing.  

As of right now, the Honolulu TJ Maxx is like a wannabe Ross with less selection and less dust on their fixtures.  They're going to have some steep competition with Nordstrom Rack right across the street.  I wish them luck.  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that there is no real signage or directions to the store from the street or within the parking structure.  The parking area could use a few large arrows with a sign that says "TJ Maxx this way" because I counted 10 people lost as I walked back to the car.  

Just my humble opinion.  I hope they get some buyers who know what they're doing and fix what's wrong because I'd really love to like shopping at TJ Maxx Honolulu.  Maybe their store in Pearl City will be better.  Here's hoping!

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