Tania Tonello is a fashion stylist, personal shopper, and regular contributor to STYLE Canada based in Downtown Toronto. On #WardrobeWednesdays, she gives you fun yet practical tips and tricks to mastering the art of dressing and expressing yourself in a functional, economical and more sustainable way. You can read her last instalment here

Imagine finding a $1,500 designer dress for under $200…

I know what you’re thinking: “It must be damaged or from a few seasons ago”. But no – it’s in perfect condition and on-trend too.

Where would a magical find like this happen, you ask? At a little slice of retail heaven known as Winners.

 When TJX announced the reopening of select Winners, Marshalls and HomeSense locations, I immediately began strategizing my shopping return. Which store would I hit first? Having worked for TJX in the past, I have the inside scoop on their ‘best’ locations so I planned my homecoming at the Winners located at Bathurst and Lawrence.

This particular store is super spacious, has an incredible contemporary section (where designer labels are housed) and an amazing selection of denim. It’s also the last location I held a personal shopping session prior to the shutdown, where I refreshed a client’s wardrobe with 15 new pieces in less than three hours. With that in mind, I thought I’d return to this serendipitous spot.

  

Store Changes

Besides feeling giddy in anticipation over the deals I’d find, I was curious about the changes TJX made to reopen their stores safely. Here’s what I discovered:

Capacity

Store associates tracked the number of bodies walking in and out of the main doors, placing a cap on how many customers could shop the store at once.

I read on the TJX website that the Bathurst and Lawrence location would open at 11:00 a.m., so I got there at 10:30 a.m. to beat the line (or so I thought!). I was surprised to find 50 people already waiting when I assumed my place in queue and another 50 filed behind me within a matter of minutes. Thankfully, everyone was respectful and patient while maintaining a socially acceptable distance from one another.

Cleaning Measures

As soon as I entered the store, an associate asked if I required a shopping cart and proceeded to wipe down its handles when I said “yes“. Additional cleaning was performed on high-touch surfaces throughout the day.

Protective Gear

At the fitting room and check out counters, protective shields were installed like the one’s you’ve likely seen at grocery stores. All store associates wore masks and plastic gloves as well.

Fitting Rooms

The biggest change I noticed was in the fitting rooms: rather than handing over try-on items to an associate to count before entering, customers hung everything on a clothing rack so their choices could be counted without physical contact.

And those numbered plastic tags you’re handed before entering the fitting rooms? They’ve been replaced with pieces of paper. Associates write the number of items you’re entering the fitting rooms with on a single piece. On your way out, you simply toss your designated number into a bin.

Another visible change in the fitting room area was the caution tape boarding up every second room in order to respect physical distancing guidelines.

Physical Distancing

Physical distancing was monitored in the outdoor line and remained a priority inside too. Two meter distance markings were visible on the sales floor and gentle reminders to stay six feet apart over the loudspeaker were appreciated.

Deals

The Balenciaga dress wasn’t a one-off find. From denim to footwear and swimwear to home goods, there were head-turning deals on every rack. I couldn’t wait to spin around in this beautiful Rebecca Taylor dress I found (pictured below) with an original sales tag of $395. I scooped it up for only $60.

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Today, select Winners locations across Canada reopened 🙌🏽 I went to the Bathurst and Lawrence location at 10:30am thinking I was beating the Winners fanatics (I.e. me)…there were already 50 people in line 😬 and it grew another 50 within minutes of securing my place in line. With mask on and physical distancing from others, I felt safe as everyone was patient and respectful. That continued as I stepped into the store, with associates wiping down shopping carts, visible physical distance foot markings on the sales floor and fewer fitting rooms available. If you’ve watched my story, you have a sense of how insane the sales were. Some might ask if shopping is necessary right now. Thankfully shopping is my job so I was grateful to be back at work today! I also grabbed a piece or two for myself 😁 This summer dress is as comfy as it is cute. I love everything about it – the frills, the cut, the colours…it screams summer ☀️ . . Today was magical for a few reasons – yes Winners reopening 😂 but I also got to take over @style_canada’s story by sharing mine. I documented from birth 👶🏻 to present haha And lastly, it was a special day because a beautiful stranger, Kim, who happened to be a wedding photographer, stopped to take some “behind the scenes” footage of my shoot tonight. She also took some of her own professional pics which I’m excited to see soon! Thanks Kim 💕

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Tips

Ready to hit a Winners, Marshalls or HomeSense? I recommend arriving at least a half hour before their doors open. I’d also suggest going on a weekday rather than a weekend (if your schedule allows) to avoid longer wait times.

If you’re shopping for a specific item, hit its designated section first so someone else doesn’t find that perfect piece before you do!

You can also become a TJX Style member to get up to 30 days to return unwanted items with a receipt as opposed to 10 days for non-members.

Help!

Love the idea of looking expensive for less but don’t have the patience, time or feel comfortable enough to shop in-store right now? Drop a comment below or let me know. I can help!

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