I'm T.J. Maxxed OutCommentary • Opinion • ISSUE 31•12 • Apr 2, 1997 By Arlene Sudzik, Bargain Hunter Arlene Sudzik Bargain Hunter I'm a real bargain hunter, so where there's a sale you're likely to find me. I spent the entire morning at T.J. Maxx's big Winter Clearance Sale, and let me tell you—I am T.J. Maxxed out! I had to stop back at home and drop off my five bags overflowing with Anne Taylor business suits and Liz Claiborne blouses before I could even think about heading off to Nordstrom's Rack. But the best part is that I didn't pay full price for anything! I get high-quality, name-brand fashions at a fraction of the cost because I have shopping savvy. Yesterday I got some not-to-be-missed deals on winter separates at Marshall's. They had Croft and Barrow misses' cotton ribbed mock turtleneck sweaters as far as the eye could see. I can't wait to add up the original price tags to find out how much being a smart shopper has saved me this week. My best girlfriend Joan and I had a contest once to see who could save more. The difference between the original prices on my eight satisfaction-guaranteed purchases and the sale prices I paid was $62. I beat Joan easily—she only saved $20 by getting two pairs of stretch career pants from the Misses' Corporate Casual Separates section of Mandee's for 40 percent off. That was pretty good, but as I like to say, "If you can't take the competition, get out of the shoe aisle!" And speaking of shoes, I've got big plans for tomorrow. The new sandals are in at Payless! I have no idea how they sell those shoes so cheap. I wouldn't be surprised if the next sale I go to at Payless is a "Going Out Of Business" sale. I wouldn't know whether to jump for joy at all those great mark-downs or cry because my favorite shoe store would be gone forever. Last summer, I took a road-trip to New York City. It was incredible. Along the interstate, all the way from Cleveland to the coast, were beautiful factory outlet malls. Do you have any idea how much you can save by cutting out the middle man? As I pulled into the Westfield Factory Outlet near Erie, PA, the signs taunted me. Where should I go first? Union Bay? L.L. Bean? Mikasa? I knew I had better clear my head and develop a system, or I was likely to skip a Contempo Casuals store by accident. Barely walking 20 feet, I found Levi's for $22.99. "Is this within the confines of the law?" I yelled, grabbing 18 pairs of cuffed shorts. The clerk assured me that it was. I almost fainted when I saw Calvin Klein crewneck tees for $13. Had I crossed the border into Mexico? Or had I died and gone to heaven? The car was so loaded down with Esprit stretch pants and two-dollar trouser socks that the back end scraped all the way to New York City, but I wasn't about to cut my dream vacation short. I pulled over just short of the George Washington Bridge, and there it was: Filene's Basement! A sales associate directed me down the escalator to the dresses, and within a minute I had sunk my body into the plush racks of Elizabeth Arden wardrobe classics—name-brand clothing at just a fraction of the price. Squeezing myself between the silk coordinates and the woven tops, I was kept upright by the force of the tightly packed clothing, enclosed in a comforting womb of bargain-priced fabric. The distinctive smell of unsullied rayon blends gave me a heady rush. I clutched my handbag instinctively and fell into a deep and satisfying slumber. I had found the bargain basement!