I Finally Visited Homesense and It Was Everything I Imagined and More

published Jun 13, 2019
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Credit: HomeSense

When a friend’s wedding took me to Holmdel, New Jersey a few weekends ago, I realized it meant that I would be near not one, but two Homesense stores for the first time ever. (Cue excited screaming.) I’ve long been an avid HomeGoods shopper, so of course I’d been itching to visit Homesense since the first store opened back in 2017. While there are technically a few Homesense stores within an hour or so of my apartment in DC, not having a car makes these types of shopping trips far less feasible. And as much as I’ve come to rely on ride-sharing services for easy transportation around the city, it’s not entirely responsible to pay $40 each way to venture out into the suburbs and back for a shopping excursion!

Credit: Sarah Lyon

Homesense has just 22 store locations across the country, so I was fortunate to be stationed near two of them. My first Homesense visit took place on a Friday afternoon before I’d even arrived at my Airbnb (I mean, I needed to find something to do prior to my 3 p.m. check-in time!). Suitcase in tow, I took a cheap Uber from the bus station to the store in Manalapan and was ready. to. shop. My initial takeaway was that the store was gigantic, and a little more showroom-like than your typical HomeGoods (and more stocked, too). Chairs of every shape and size were stacked up against the wall, lamps had their own huge designated area of the store, and of course there were your typical sections scattered throughout — decor, rugs, stationery, and more.

HomeGoods and Homesense are meant to complement one another, and while they are pretty similar, HomeGoods’ departments including an expanded food section, a kids section, and a pet section were not carried over to Homesense.

While first exploring the store, I saw a few items that I thought were cute but convinced myself that I didn’t really need (I’d have to lug everything back to DC at the end of the weekend, after all), but that all changed after I spotted two darling ginger jars for less than $20 each that I knew I had to purchase. I love displaying my existing collection of ginger jars on a shelf in my bedroom, and I knew I would regret not picking these up for such a good price.

Once I decided that I was committing to bringing things home (which I think I sort of knew would happen all along, after all), I was really ready to shop. I wandered into the art section and found some amazing pieces — like the below black and white photo that I think would look adorable in a bathroom (yes, it came home with me) — and some other cute framed prints that would look darling mixed in as part of a gallery wall.

My one piece of criteria when shopping at places like HomeGoods (and now Homesense) is that I never want my finds, particularly if they happen to be pieces of art, to look too mass-produced and chain store-like. I am much more drawn to pieces that are (or look like they’ve been) sourced from a small one-of-a-kind shop or independent artist. That said, I thought the framed photograph I purchased looked high end and unique despite its $19.99 price sticker!

Credit: Sarah Lyon

While continuing to browse the art section, I found my best item of both Homesense visits: a piece of tribal-printed fabric encased in a lucite frame. As if it wasn’t beautiful enough, it turned out to be half off and therefore would just cost me $70 (not cheap cheap, but an amazing score for a gorgeous, framed piece of this size). I fell in love right away but of course kept reminding myself how dumb it would be to purchase a gigantic piece of art (it measures roughly 2.5 by 3 feet) while traveling in a different state, even though I would fortunately be getting a ride home with a friend.

Unsure what to do, I texted my friend and fellow design lover Stacy, asking her things like, “Should I get this?! Is my friend who’s driving me back to DC going to hate me?” Her response? “Get it. This is the kind of piece that will haunt you.” (Did I mention I love Stacy?)

Credit: Sarah Lyon

But in all seriousness, I’ve been drawn to prints like this one for quite some time, and the one I found reminds me of something you might see for sale at St. Frank for five times the price. I posted a picture of the piece to my Instagram Stories, and right away tons of people chimed in telling me that I couldn’t leave the store without it. Okay, people, you win!

Credit: Sarah Lyon

The following day, I found myself close to the Ocean, NJ, location and popped in to explore that store. I really was on my best shopping behavior this time and left with a sassy ban.do journal that had been marked down to $2 and nothing else. I saw some of the same items that had been in stock at the Manalapan location, but each store definitely had unique pieces. Had I lived in the area and had additional space in my apartment, I think my dream item to purchase would have been the above heavy gold faux bamboo mirror that was on sale for $99. I’ve lusted over mirrors like these for ages and the item didn’t appear to have anything wrong with it despite the markdown.

Credit: Sarah Lyon

Another area of the store that I loved browsing was the book section. Just imagine: an entire row of shelves filled to the brim with beautiful, discounted coffee table books. While everything was certainly cheaper than cover price, most books were still between $17 and $40 depending on the size and title and therefore were a good deal all things considered, but by no means bargain basement finds. Had I not needed to go back to my Airbnb and prep for the wedding, I would’ve been in there browsing titles all day!

Homesense, thank you for being so good to me during my first few visits… I’ll be back soon!