In business there is a thing called “a loss leader”. It’s where a company will take a loss on a product to get people into the business that hopefully aren’t regulars, and they will in turn buy other products. We have to wonder how Steve Jobs feels about his darling product, the iPad, being used in such a way by clothing stores.

On Thursday Engadget reported the oddness of spotting 16GB Wi-Fi iPads in a T.J. Maxx location for $399, which is $100 below the usual price.  The blog called around to other store locations and found some had them, some didn’t and some were waiting for Black Friday to put them out.  With the cat out of the bag, T.J. Maxx confirmed the news via its Twitter account.

T.J. MaxxWhat we know is that the company is not announcing which stores have them, nor will they say how many of there are per store. The sale is going on now, so you don’t have to wait for Black Friday (Nov. 26th) to get in on the deal. Apparently Marshalls, which is owned by the same company is doing a similar promotion, and some reports say they will have 100 per day next weekend.

It’s an interesting idea, and it is certainly not without precedent, but considering the way Apple guards its image, we can’t imagine they are doing backflips over this.  Typically when an Apple product is put “on sale” it means you get something like a $50 iTunes gift card with the purchase, but the actual device will remain unchanged.  If the company got the devices directly from Apple, we don’t imagine they’ll be getting any more, and if they went through a third-party, that company better hope Apple doesn’t figure out who they were (but they will due to serial numbers).

Whatever the case is behind this oddity, you may not want to waste any time getting down to the local T.J. Maxx to pick one up … along with a shirt.

What say you?  Any thoughts on what this deal is?