I am, admittedly, a creature of habit. As a professional stager/real estate agent on Long Island, I've always had my go to stores for just the right piece to put the finishing touch to a staging project. For a long time that place was Home Depot Expo. My intimate knowledge of every aisle and every exotic collection made a trip to that that vast expanse of space nothing short of an adventure. When they finally closed their doors during some tough economic times, I lamented the loss, reacting viscerally to the removal of that all too familiar sign. Like a spurned lover, I searched for a new love to make my heart skip a beat.
Fortunoff filled the void for a time, offering attractive options in the bath and bedding departments and an occasional decorative object, at a viable price would fill a need. And though it was no love affair, it became my interim solution in the business of design. Sadly, that too disappeared from the landscape one fine day, leaving The Source Mall much less of a source.
In marched the cavalry, in the form of HomeGoods. They offered an ever changing inventory of products at prices well below the retail stores. You could find items for every room in the house, from pots and pans in the kitchen to rugs for beneath your feet. It was the kind of place, I quickly learned, where, if you saw it you'd better pick it up before someone two aisles away beat you to it. I've deposited thousands of dollars into their coffers for myself and the people I serve, and I've done it gladly. They've enabled me to make houses look unique at an affordable price.
One by one, branches of this very successful concept were springing up all over Long Island, and I've visited them all. Like most people I suspect, I have my favorites. When a few days ago commercials began popping up all over the airwaves, touting their latest grand opening at The Gallery at Westbury Plaza, I felt an obligation to go. The promise of a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree was just the added bonus to make facing the inevitable crowds worthwhile. It was, however, not to be. At least not yesterday. The parking lot at The Gallery is huge, but it was no match for the crowds that descended on the store like locusts. Parking was out of the question. Driving was a challenge. All I wanted to do after a few times around the lot was get out. Suddenly nothing seemed attractive enough to make me want to stay.
Never one to totally give up, I went back today to give the place a second chance. The enormous "Now Open" sign welcomed us in to what turned out to be a challenging and utterly unpleasant experience. If I were called upon to gather up the most agressive, ill mannered people in the world, I couldn't have done a better job. Nowhere near as crowded as yesterday, the shoppers still managed to make many aisles impenetrable, as the sea of carts forced you in a wave toward the back of the store whether you were headed there or not, and where many of the shelves were empty. I wish now I'd taken a picture of the one that said, "don't miss this." I guess they didn't, because there was nothing on any of the shelves.
Unless things change, and I am hopeful they will, this one will not be my HomeGoods of choice.
(In all fairness, the employees did try to move the checkout line along, thus avoiding additional chaos. As for the rest of it, they too had to be overwhelmed.)