Published on November 5, 2019

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Photography by Amy Bartlam; Design by Katie Hodges

Christine Lee admits there’s an element of luck to shopping at HomeGoods—it’s what got her hooked in the first place. “It’s an experience; an exhilarating rush,” she says. Unlike most people who swing by when they’re in need of a last-minute gift or additional throw pillow, though, Lee turned her infatuation into the store’s biggest superfan account: @homegoodsobsessed. Lee isn’t formally affiliated with the company, but she’s at her local San Carlos, California, store as often as four times a week, scavenging the furniture aisle, comparing prices on tableware, and getting intel from staff. She uses the platform to share snapshots of her favorite finds with 172,000 followers and counting. 

Lee’s number-one tip: “Go with a focus, but stay open-minded.” While it’s true the retailer’s merchandise is ever-changing and that no two locations are exactly alike, there are some consistencies across the board. We recently caught up with the seasoned shopper to get the inside scoop—from the items that are always worth buying to the best days of the week to stop by. 

Invest in Serveware

In Lee’s experience, framed artwork, dishes, candles, frames, and kitchenware boast the best markdowns. Her all-time favorite find is a four-person, 20-piece gold flatware set that was $50. “I saw similar-looking ones at West Elm, but they were $20 for each setting,” she says, adding that a milk-glass cake stand that would traditionally go for $70 at Macy’s will probably only cost you $15 at HomeGoods. 

Browse the Big-Ticket Items First

Lee immediately ventures left when she walks in—straight for the furniture and rugs. She does a quick scan, just to make sure she isn’t missing any hidden gems that could get snapped up by another customer, before moving onto the mirrors and artwork, and, ultimately, ending up in the kitchen, stationery, and candle aisles—places she knows require more attention to detail and where she is more likely to walk away with something.

Stop by After Lunch Hour

To avoid bumper-to-bumper cart traffic, Lee suggests going during the middle of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday) right when the store opens or later in the afternoon around 3 p.m. “Monday is what I call ‘recovery day.’ Workers are usually busy restocking the shelves after the busy weekend. By Friday, the stores are ramping up to get as much inventory on the floor as possible,” she says. 

Plan Your Visit Around New Shipments

While every store differs when it comes to receiving new inventory, in most cases, it’s more frequent than you’d think. “My store receives shipments four times a week, with some delivery trucks holding 800 pieces,” says Lee. Employees are constantly moving new products to the floor, and often managers don’t know what will be hitting the shelves until the trucks arrive. She’s also been told that the goal is for each item to sell within two to three weeks. All that to say, you never know what tomorrow will hold (or not hold). 

Find the Largest Store Near You

If your HomeGoods is attached to a sister store like TJMaxx, you’ve basically struck gold. In these cases, Lee says the buildings are often bigger, meaning they bring in larger truckloads of goods. “I recommend checking out multiple locations (within reasonable distance) to see the various selections,” says Lee. 

Bookmark Quality Brands

“I love everything that Tainoki produces,” says Lee. She usually goes for the furniture purveyor’s velvet ottomans, coffee tables, and makeup organizers. Keeping track of the brands you’re consistently drawn to will help you navigate the shelves faster.

Don’t Be Afraid to Bargain

Lee isn’t averse to shopping elsewhere for decor and furniture–in fact, she encourages it, particularly when it comes to bigger items like rugs and sofas, as these floor samples have been touched and handled quite a bit. Do some price research beforehand to see if you can get the same item brand-new from a different retailer. If you can’t, don’t forgo the idea of a DIY. “If you notice a huge scratch on an item that can be easily fixed at home, ask for an additional discount, beginning at 10 percent upwards to 28 percent and at the manager’s discretion,” she says. 

But back to Lee’s biggest tip of all—be flexible. You may walk into the store with the intention of buying dish towels and walk out with adorable hedgehog-shaped measuring cups, and that’s the draw. Sold!

See more stories like this: 
The One Item Interior Designers Always Buy at HomeGoods
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