I visited TK Maxx’s Bexleyheath store in Kent this past weekend and left feeling rather depressed. It was early on a sunny summer’s Sunday morning, but with no natural light in the aircraft hangar-style shop and so far removed from the outside world, I found myself looking at the discounted knitwear and winter coats.
On its company website, TK Maxx advises customers to enter “..with an open mind. Your treasure hunt begins here.” But being a man, I went into the shop with specific items in mind and was not prepared for a Pac-Man like game to pile as many shirts and jeans into my basket as possible.
The chain advises that new stock arrives daily (sometimes twice daily), so “… be prepared to have a new look every time”. This led me to envisage customers desperate for the latest lines similar to troops in war torn parts of the world awaiting vital supplies.
All the stock is arranged in a sale style, bundled together according to size or item type. Unlike other high street retailers such as Primark or Next, no effort is made to reflect particular seasons (such as summer holidays) through ensemble displays. Indeed, I’ve seen charity shops and second-hand clothes stores do a far better job with inventive use of mannequins.
But, maybe that is the point of TK Maxx – one can visit the store at any time of year and pick up a major label item from last season’s range and squirrel it away for the winter or following summer holiday. From a psychological perspective, as everything is heavily discounted (usually 60% off), one does become rather immune to the savings and I certainly didn’t feel the same endorphin buzz you get in the January sales.
To TK Maxx’s credit, I found a few items I liked, there was no queue in the fitting rooms and minimal waiting time at checkout, so from that perspective, I can’t complain. But I did leave feeling particularly uninspired as I put my sunglasses back on and realised it was still late-July.
- Tom Jones, August 2011