T.J. Maxx joins East Market project

East Market construction looking south from Market Street between 12th and 11th Streets.

Value retailer T.J. Maxx, which is in the midst of a brick-and-mortar expansion, is joining East Market in the fall. The company confirmed early Tuesday its not-yet-announced addition to the project, which stretches from Market Street to Chestnut and from 11th Street to 12th.

“We anticipate that a new T.J. Maxx will open in Philadelphia sometime in the fall,” said Casey Andrews, spokeswoman for TJX Cos., corporate parent of the T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, and Sierra Trading Post brands.

T.J. Maxx will join Mom’s Organic Market, which will open its doors Friday at 34 S. 11th St., as one of the anchors for East Market.

Often cited as a “standout” in the industry, T.J. Maxx — which, like Nordstrom Rack and some others, sells marked-down designer brands from clothing to luggage — is going against the grain and adding physical stores even as online shopping expands.

Two sources close to or involved with the East Market development said last week that T.J. Maxx, as well as AT&T, had signed leases. AT&T did not immediately respond to inquiries for comment.

Confirmation by T.J. Maxx comes less than two weeks after the Inquirer reported that furniture retailer Design Within Reach had pulled out of plans for a 15,000-square-foot showroom at 11th and Ludlow Streets that was to be a critical piece of East Market.

DWR’s canceled plans for a return to Center City were a blow to the 4.3-acre development, which has been heralded as a catalyst that would revive the corridor east of Broad Street with retail, new office space, and residential towers.

Camera icon MICHAEL BRYANT
The veiw of East Market as seen from 12th Street looking east (at left) toward the Delaware River.

When asked about T.J. Maxx and AT&T stores joining East Market’s tenant roster, Dan Killinger, managing director for National Real Estate Development, developer of the project, said: “Since our project launched, National Real Estate Development has remained confident and enthusiastic about the retail market in our neighborhood. These feelings have been strengthened by our current tenants in Mom’s Organic Market, Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant, Wawa, and City Fitness. We continue to have conversations with national, regional and local retailers interested in joining our evolving corridor. … We look forward to more exciting announcements in the coming months.”

Scott Nash, chief executive officer of Mom’s, said he was happy to be joining the neighborhood. Mom’s will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

“I’m thrilled with the way this store has turned out,” he said. “In addition to our usual offerings of highest-quality 100 percent organic produce section and incredible selection of products, we’re trying some new things in design and offerings. For starters, we’re opening up our Naked Lunch Kitchen for morning breakfast, which will have a ‘beer cave,’ and open mezzanine seating and offices.”

Camera icon MICHAEL BRYANT
The store fronts of Mom’s Organic Market at 34 S.11th St., which will be an anchor for the East Market development. The grocer will open Friday.

Retail analysts said T.J. Maxx’s expansion into downtown Philadelphia isn’t surprising.

“In an era when many retailers are shuttering stores, TJX is among the few chains that continues to open scores of new stores,” said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics Inc., which tracks the retail industry for investors. “Even strong performers such as Lowe’s and Home Depot are only opening a handful of new stores, so from this perspective TJX is truly a standout retailer.”

TJX has outperformed Retail Metrics’ same-store sales index covering 112 chains in 33 of the last 38 quarters, dating to the start of 2008, Perkins said.

“Off-price retailers are expanding due to their ability to attract both value-driven and brand-conscious consumers. Consumers shop at these stores to find the ‘gem’ or ‘steal,’ not available at department or specialty stores,” said Madeline Hurley, senior analyst at IBISWorld. “This makes off-price stores less susceptible to both brick-and-mortar and online competition. TJX has been particularly successful due to the variety of retail areas it serves. Their HomeGoods stores cater to customers looking for stylish and affordable furnishings, while the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls banners appeal to the more general shopper looking for clothes, shoes, kitchen and home goods and cosmetics.”