Here’s The Simple Reason Why T.J. Maxx Is Called T.K. Maxx in Europe

updated Oct 16, 2020
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In the U.S., T.J. Maxx is synonymous with hunting for hidden gems, like solid cookware and painted ceramic dishes, amid an always-changing mix of random items (The Onion captured this experience particularly well). In Europe, there’s one small but major difference: There, the store is called T.K. Maxx.

T.J. Maxx and T.K. Maxx are the same. Their logos look the same, they share the same concept (selling deeply discounted goods from department store brands), and they’re part of the same parent company, called TJX Companies. So why the different names?

First, a brief history. T.J. Maxx opened in 1977 with two locations in Massachusetts (Auburn and Worcester), according to the TJX Companies website. Over the next 15 years, the store expanded through the U.S. and into Canada, and sprouted into sister brand HomeGoods. In 1994, T.J. Maxx reached the U.K. and Ireland, where it opened as T.K. Maxx.

According to Wales Online, there was already a discount store operating in the U.K. at the time, called TJ Hughes. (It’s still around, in fact, though it’s much smaller than its competitor, with 24 total locations around the U.K., according to Business Insider.) In order to avoid confusion, T.J. Maxx became T.K. Maxx, which it remains across Europe today.

Though the reason for the name change is simple, it’s still fun to entertain other possibilities. When the question came up on Quora, one commenter named Stewart Thompson gave this answer (before citing the actual TJ Hughes story):

“TK is [TJ’s] younger brother… Or it could be that both TJ and TK come from a long family line of Maxx’s that all own chains in different countries? TA through to TG retired some time ago…”

When we see the opening of T.L. Maxx, we’ll know the takeover attempt has really begun.