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  • kenpasternak

The Godfather...of sorts

While visiting London recently my wife and I stopped into a T.K. Maxx store, the European name for T.J. Maxx in the USA, owned by TJX Companies, which also operate Home Goods, Marshalls, and a few other brands.

I always feel a bit of godfatherly pride when visiting T.J. Maxx stores. Early in my career, as a corporate banker in New York City, I was our bank’s Relationship Manager for Zayre Corporation. Zayre was a discount store chain in various regions of the country. In the 1970’s that industry was undergoing a major shake-out after too many players had expanded too rapidly during a weakening U.S. economy

We were selected by Zayre to lead a bank lending syndicate to fund a strategic transformation of their business. I vividly recall the day we assembled the participating banks in a large conference room at the company’s Framingham, MA headquarters to learn about their plans.

In addition to the discount store business, Zayre had operated a chain of small retail stores selling off-price women’s clothing under the name “Hit or Miss.” What they presented to us that day was a plan to take that off-price concept and put it on steroids, creating a much larger store that would sell a full range of apparel for women, men, and children – all sold at a discount from regular retail prices. They shared store layout designs, merchandizing plans, and financial forecasts.

The T.J. Maxx concept was born, and our banking syndicate came through with the loan. By the way, the ‘T.J.’ were made-up initials that just sounded right when combined with “Maxx” which was an homage to Max Feldberg who had co-founded Zayre with his brother Morris.

While that loan was repaid decades ago, I continue to make my own financial contribution to TJX because it is so difficult leave their stores without buying something.

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