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What You Probably Shouldn’t Be Buying at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s

Everyone loves a deal, and off-price retailers like TJ Maxx and Marshall's have them in spades. But for all of the great buys they have to offer, there are others to pass up.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.

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01_Cooking-gadgetsvia amazon.com

Cooking gadgets

According to a USA Today piece, you want to avoid purchasing kitchen items boasting unfamiliar brand names at TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and Home Goods. They assert these “cheap” and “unknown brands” are more inclined to break and not work as well while you’re prepping your next meal. Love a bargain? Then you’ll want to read the 29 things you should be buying from Target but aren’t.

If you’re purchasing online, you can read through verified reviews to make sure you’re making a smart choice, like on this beloved Instant Pot.

What to buy instead

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02_Swimwearvia amazon.com

Swimwear

Getting a great deal on a swimsuit can take the sting out of an otherwise frustrating shopping experience, but you may want to avoid hitting discount shops for these items. “Unlike other clothing items, swimwear is made to be worn in the water and in the sun, so the fabric needs to be premium in order to withstand chlorinated pool water, salty ocean water, and sun fading,” says Kelley Clinkenbeard of Forte Mare, a strategic marketing group. “You won’t find high-quality swimwear at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s, etc. It’s fast-fashion and ultimately won’t last.” Reviews are everything when it comes to finding a great swimsuit, and CUPSHE gets rave ones on Amazon—so do these other 20 products on Amazon you’ll wish you owned sooner.

What to buy instead

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03_Makeupvia amazon.com

Makeup

“The number one product that you shouldn’t buy at TJ Maxx and stores like them is makeup,” says Becky Beach, consumer expert and blogger at MomBeach.com. “I have seen so many open makeup containers when I visit those stores. Sure, the makeup is cheap but it could be harmful.” Look for great deals online, like Elizabeth Arden Grand Entrance Dramatic Volume Mascara for perking up those lashes.

What to buy instead

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04_Foodvia amazon.com

Food

You can actually find some pretty interesting pantry items at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. In fact, according to Bon Appetit, TJ Maxx buyers score items that are produced specially for them, so they’re not necessarily overstock or clearance items. The problem here is that if you fall in love with a pantry item at these stores, you may be hard-pressed to find it again. According to the same Bon Appetit article, store buyers actually want to run out of items to create a sense of urgency that customers need to snap it up right away or risk missing out. These are the 18 latest must-haves you’ll find at Target, including new food items.

You can get great novelty food items again and again by searching around online, like Oh! Nuts Holiday Honey Sticks Gift Set.

What to buy instead

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05_Yoga-matsvia amazon.com

Yoga mats

A yoga mat is a yoga mat, right? Wrong. According to the folks at Reviewed.com, tried-and-tested mats from off-price retailers like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s are described as thin and, even worse, slippery. No one wants to feel like they’re not stable the next time they’re engaged in a downward dog. Gaiam Essentials makes a great thick yoga mat available in a variety of colors to suit the needs of yogis and novices everywhere.

What to buy instead

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06_Sheetsvia amazon.com

Sheets

There might be plenty of bedding sets with pretty patterns at these stores, including the beloved Home Goods, which is a sister store to TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, but experts warn that these sheets generally aren’t the best quality. According to The Cheat Sheet they often sell bedding made of synthetic fibers which don’t hold up well during repeated washing. You’re better off investing in bedding made from all-natural fibers, like Cariloha’s bamboo sheets or one of these 21 sleep products on Amazon that shoppers can’t stop buying.

What to buy instead

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07_Hair-productsvia amazon.com

Hair products

Similar to makeup, hair products at off-price retailers may have been tampered with. These products may arrive at the store in tip-top shape, but because there aren’t testers available of products, as Southern Living points out, customers will often crack open a can so they can sample (retail etiquette: do not do this). Instead, grab favorites like It’s a 10 Haircare Miracle Leave-In when you know they are sealed and haven’t been sampled and keep these haircare mistakes in mind the next time you style to prevent aging your locks prematurely.

What to buy instead

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08_Baby-toysvia amazon.com

Baby toys

Kids grow out of phases so rapidly that it’s natural to want to pinch a few pennies when purchasing toys. That said, Gaynor Humphrey, who works with toy manufacturer and distributor Best Years warns of purchasing baby toys at an off-price retailer. “Most of these outlets get their stocks from companies needing to clear overstocks, but they also get stock through third-party clearance houses,” says Humphrey. “One potential problem is that the toys may not conform to current testing standards, or are ‘knock-off ‘ merchandise which, again, may not have been made to the strict standards you would want from a baby toy.” Instead, look for great deals on eco-friendly playthings, like Green Toys My First Stacker.

What to buy instead

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09_Anything-too-cheapvia amazon.com

Anything too cheap

Most of us are trying to stretch our budgets, but makers of ethical fashion warn of buying anything too cheap for an important reason. “Unfortunately, when we buy a $5 tee, the retailer is getting a profit, the brand is getting a profit, and we just paid that amount. How much goes to who produced it? Less than nothing,” says Alberto Gil, manager of Sumissura, a made-to-measure fashion brand. A great resource for learning more about the effects of fast fashion can be found in Dana Thomas’s Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes.

What to buy instead

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Hand is holding tag label on modern design blue shirt isolated on white backgroundTanasan Sungkaew/Shutterstock

Anything too expensive

On the flipside, do your research on how much items actually cost before basing a purchase decision solely on TJ Maxx’s infamous “Compare at” price tags. While the retailer is transparent about how they come up with the compare at price on their website and with in-store signage, not every deal is truly the best deal. “One practice, like the ‘Compare At’ information used by T.J. Maxx, is price anchoring,” shopping expert Lisa Lee Freeman told Good Morning America. “Basically they give you a few reference points, or one reference point, to show you what a great deal you’re getting.” Just make sure that deal really is great before you hit the register. Save even more money with these savvy shopping tricks you’ll wish you knew all along.