Pursuant to my report on treasure hunting at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, here’s my report on shopping at AJWright. Having never stepped into an AJWright prior to the blogger tour and shopping event, I didn’t have the same experienced eye for layout and inventory as I did walking into the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls event. Even so, it was interesting to learn about a business that has been right under my nose but off my radar for so many years...not to mention fun to discover a few treasures along the way.
Who are they? AJWright is a division of The TJX Companies, alongside T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. But unlike Marshalls, which was acquired by TJX following many years as a separate entity, AJWright always has been under the TJX umbrella, similar in concept to what Old Navy is to brand siblings Gap and Banana Republic.
What’s new? Apparently, AJWright has garnered a reputation for feeling like a bargain warehouse (in a bad way). Following extensive consumer research, AJWright recently remodeled the Methuen and Somerville locations (I visited Methuen) and next month will remodel the Dorchester, Lowell, and East Boston locations then proceed to other market makeovers (141 stores in 20 states…who knew?). I would say that in general – again, based on my experience with this one remodeled store – the feel is warehouse-y in the same way Old Navy is (large, lots of racks, no frills, etc… not necessarily a bad thing) and with the same general organization of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls (items organized by department then size…not a boutique approach).
What’s in store? AJWright carries the basic departments: ladies, juniors, men, kids, toys, accessories, shoes, housewares, and seasonal (plus random rotating items such as DVDs and fitness accesories). They offer school uniforms, a considerable plus size collection, popular urban brands (e.g., this whole Ed Hardy thing I keep hearing about…), and licensed items (e.g., Disney, Red Sox). However, on the day I visited, the brand availability in the women’s department didn’t come close to T.J. Maxx and Marshalls; the Liz Claiborne, Anne Klein, and Calvin Klein pieces I saw were exceptions to the rule.
Though I tend to be a brand loyalist, I combed the women's apparel racks with an open mind and regretfully did not find anything that suited my (admittedly picky) taste. However, I did find an adorable tote (which I’ve been carrying regularly since; click on thumbnail above to enlarge), a full-sized Little Miss Matched sheet set (Laurel went berserk over the colors and patterns!), a 3-piece baby layette set (for a friend), and a set of fabric-covered hangers (for holding silky blouses in place) -- all for a mere $50. Bargain!
Doing good. As I mentioned in my T.J. Maxx/Marshalls post, I'm always interested to learn how companies are doing good and was pleased to find out that AJWright makes a donation to the Boys & Girls Club of America for each store opening (they open approximately 15 stores per year).
In sum, given that I didn’t find my style vibe in the women’s clothing department, I’ll likely stick to T.J. Maxx and Marshalls (and my other tried and true stores) on that front; however, if an AJWright is convenient to you, the housewares, accessories, and kids sections are worth a visit for basics and birthday presents. That said, it wouldn't hurt to take a peek throughout the store -- you never know what will turn up on a treasure hunt.