I love Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table as much as the next person, but I don't always love their prices. Wandering around the two stores and gawking at the beautiful displays can easily occupy my entire afternoon. But as soon as I'm through, I head to T.J. Maxx or Marshalls to get my actual kitchen shopping done.
The two discount stores often carry many of the same items as Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table and department stores like Macy's, but for far less money. And, sure, there are kitchen items at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls I'm not going to buy -- much of the packaged food is leftover merchandise from trade shows, for example -- but the two stores are great for stocking up on items like holiday tchotchkes, party goods and more.
Do you really need a cherry pitter or a mold that lets you create fried eggs in the shape of a piece of bread? Probably not. But if you really, really want one, this is the place to go for it. Unitaskers are one of the cheapest kitchen items T.J. Maxx and Marshalls sell, so chances are you're not going to seriously regret your $1.99 purchase of a stamp that lets you mark an Eiffel tower on top of slices of toast.
4. Table linens
These are especially useful as we approach prime holiday entertaining season. Hosting your first Thanksgiving dinner or a Christmas buffet spread? Now's the time to do the grown-up thing and purchase a tablecloth, or -- at the very least -- linen place mats and napkins. Paper towels and cocktail napkins from Target have a time and a place. Alternately, can't bear the thought of all your company from last year seeing the exact same linens this year? New tablescapes can be found for cheap here.
One of the first lessons I learned upon getting my own place was that trashcans are ridiculously goddamned expensive. You throw garbage in them. And the most you can really want out of one is that it doesn't look too ugly while storing your kitchen refuse. So why do decent trashcans at places like Bed Bath & Beyond range from $200 to a staggering $370? Perfectly nice stainless steel trashcans that are exactly the same can be had at T.J. Maxx or Marshalls for anywhere from $30 to $60.
You know J.A. Henckels knives; they're mad expensive. Even a cheap set like this six-piece knife set with block is $150 at Williams-Sonoma. The same set is $70 at T.J. Maxx. And how about super-fancy Laguiole knives from France? This set of three cheese knives ranges between $300 and $500 at Williams-Sonoma. A nearly identical set is $15 at T.J. Maxx. And a six-piece steak knife set? $500 at Williams-Sonoma or $17 at T.J. Maxx. The biggest difference? The discount knives don't come in a fancy box. I can do without that box.
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1. Pots and pans
My mother has a beautiful set of Mauviel copper...all of it from Marshalls. The cheapest piece of Mauviel copper at Sur La Table is an $80 butter warmer. I believe my mother probably spent $500 altogether on her extensive collection, which would have purchased her one Mauviel Dutch oven at Sur La Table. But not everyone has the patience to keep copper pans, which is why God created stainless steel. Calphalon and All-Clad -- two of the best all-around brands on the market -- can often be found in great quantity at the discount giants. A ten-inch All-Clad fry pan is $125 at Williams-Sonoma or $60 at Marshalls. The 13-inch Calphalon deep sauté pan seen above is $180 at Williams-Sonoma or $60 at T.J. Maxx. I rest my case.