Customers pour into T.J. Maxx

JOHNSTOWN – A mix of “Maxxinistas” and curious customers braved sub-zero temperatures this morning to celebrate the grand opening of the new T.J. Maxx department store at the Johnstown Shopping Center.

Johnstown resident Linda Vosteen was the store’s first customer, and she helped cut the ribbon with new store Manager Joanna Belrose, employees and local officials. Representing the city during the brief ceremony were Johnstown Councilwomen Kathi Iannotti and Helen Martin and 2nd Ward Supervisor Mike Kinowski.

“We welcome them to Johnstown,” Iannotti said. “It has made a lot of women happy.”

Belrose welcomed those who had already streamed into the parking lot of the red-and-white-themed store just after 8 a.m.

“Thank you for coming,” the manager said. “T.J. Maxx is really committed to the community. Many people have worked really hard to get this store here.”

Belrose presented a $5,000 “community grant” to the Family Counseling Center of Gloversville, in a brief exchange with Executive Director Michael Countryman.

Then it was on to the opening of the store, whose pristine wooden floor was immediately blemished by many snowy boots.

“I love T.J. Maxx,” said Sheri Thompson of Johnstown. “This is great that they brought it here to Johnstown.”

Lisa Arsenault and Aubrey Grant of Mayfield said they were there for the “deals.”

“This is like going to Disneyland this morning,” a female shopper told an employee, who thanked her.

Grandma Millie’s bakery provided cake at the opening, and customers were offered an immediate opportunity to open a T.J.X. Rewards Credit Card and save 10 percent.

“Spring In, Strut Out” proclaimed a big sign on the outside window. Inside, a giant customer-service sign proclaimed, “Thanks, From Your Johnstown T.J.’s.”

Reusable bags were given to the first 1,000 customers.

Belrose said she couldn’t comment about the store, referring questions to the corporate office. The corporate office declined to say how many people the store employs.

Regular store hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.

Plans for the store were announced two years ago by Pennsylvania-based developer Michael Wachs, who owns the shopping center.

Based in Framingham, Mass., T.J. Maxx has more than 1,000 locations nationwide, operating in 49 states and Puerto Rico. It sells brand-name family apparel, accessories, shoes, gifts and jewelry at discount prices. The new 23,400-square-foot, single-story, steel-frame store is next to Romana’s restaurant.

T..J. Maxx President Richard Sherr celebrated today’s opening with his own statement this week from the corporate office.

“Our new store in Johnstown will deliver value and an exciting selection of fashion to serve the needs of customers,” said Sherr. “With thousands of new items from top designers and brands arriving in each store every week from around the world, shoppers will discover a completely new store full of amazing values every time they visit.”

The new store off Route 30A actually represents a relocation of a T.J. Maxx store at the Rotterdam Square Mall on West Campbell Road in Schenectady, T.J. Maxx officials said. They wouldn’t comment on why that store was closed.

Brittany Welch of the T..J. Maxx public relations office said, “In general, when we open new stores, we look for areas with the right mix of demographics, which can include families with children, home ownership, thriving retail areas, and areas where shoppers are fashion-conscious, yet value-conscious.”

In a news release, T.J. Maxx referred to its customers as “Maxxinistas.”

“Our shoppers love the thrill of finding the exact same designer items that are currently in department stores, but for so much less,” the news release said. “Departments include fashion and accessories for the entire family and home, jewelry, beauty, pet accessories, toys and more.”

The T.J. Maxx website says the first store opened in 1977. T.J. Maxx supports Save The Children, Autism Speaks and Joslin Diabetes Center with annual in-store fundraising campaigns.

T.J. Maxx can be visited on Facebook at facebook.com/tjmaxx, and on Twitter at @tjmaxx.

Michael Anich can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.