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Circut City on the corner of Arizona Avenue and Fourth Street on Thursday afternoon. (photo by Brandon Wise)

FOURTH STREET — Frugal shoppers looking for designer threads without breaking the bank will have another store to hit and Fourth Street will get a serious retail anchor to replace bankrupt Circuit City.

T.J. Maxx, the largest North American off-price retailer, is trying to give competitor Ross a run for its money on the Westside, opening a 32,000-square-foot store on the corner of Fourth Street and Arizona Avenue.

The site was formerly home to Circuit City, which went out of business last year during the height of the economic downturn, raising concerns about the loss of much-needed sales tax revenue. The closure left Santa Monica without a major electronics outlet.

T.J. Maxx is known for offering designer fashions at a discount by taking advantage of overruns, canceled orders and forecasting mistakes. When a major designer produces more clothing than it can sell through specialty retailers or department stores, or a store can’t move all of the items in a particular line, the excess inventory is sold at a 20 percent to 60 percent discount to an off-price retailer. The company passes these savings onto consumers, marking up goods by a lower percentage than full-price stores and instead building their operating margins by moving a high volume of inventory quickly, at rock-bottom prices.

Other off-price retailers include Ross, Big Lots and Marshalls.

The store, which is slated to open in May 2010, will be T.J. Maxx’s first in Santa Monica.

“Santa Monica has the right mix of demographics which is considered before any store opening,” said Thea Houghton, a spokesperson for T.J. Maxx, which is based in Framingham, Mass. “We are excited to bring T.J. Maxx to an area where shoppers are fashion-conscious, yet value-conscious.”

T.J. Maxx has 36 locations in Los Angeles County.

Rob York, a consultant for the Bayside District Corp., a public-private management company which oversees marketing and other functions for Downtown, said the arrival of T.J. Maxx is welcomed.

“This broadens the merchandise mix, particularly on the apparel side, and adds another piece of affordable apparel for Downtown customers,” York said. “It should be a good draw and help drive traffic on Fourth Street.”

For years, merchants on Fourth and Second streets have complained about a lack of interest from shoppers who are drawn to the more popular Third Street Promenade. City Hall has made attempts to draw traffic to the side streets, installing thousands of LED lights on ficus trees to make the area more attractive and safer.

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