My mom and I have been shopping together for a long time. We have several different shopping destinations, we have a particular route we take through each store, and we have particular places we stop for lunch. It's all established. But there has been a change. It is such a huge and significant change, my mom still hasn't adjusted even though it's been well over a year now.
My mom loves Marshalls, T. J. Maxx, and Home Goods, but all three stores used to send me off the cliff of despair. I used to go through picking up a picture frame, a baby outfit, a kitchen utensil, a book---but then I always ended up putting everything back and leaving with nothing except a disappointed, unfulfilled feeling. It happened so often, I developed an aversion, and my mom ended up shopping there only when her fashionable friends wanted to look for clothes.
I can't explain what happened to change my mind. Did it start with the mother-in-law dishes? I think maybe it did. I was looking for some Good Dishes to use for company, and I wanted them to be something my mother-in-law would approve of---but something I'd enjoy using, too, and something fun to buy. Since my mother-in-law and I, ah, differ in our personal styles, this task seemed a challenge. I checked Target: meh. Walmart: meh. The mall: meh meh meh meh meh Food Court meh meh.
My mom wanted to check T. J. Maxx and Marshalls, and I was resistant. But there they were at T. J. Maxx, the dishes of my dreams:
Johnson Brothers British Castles pattern. From ENGLAND, which makes everything automatically better. And perfect in every way: definitely Good Dishes, but fine for everyday use; definitely to my tastes, but also to my mother-in-law's. But check out the PRICE: even on Amazon.com, $120 for service for four, and that's down from $200. YIPE. Go on, guess how much they were at T. J. Maxx. Go on. No, I'll just tell you: $56 for service for four. Still a pretty penny, but about the same price as the NON-England sets I saw at Target and Walmart and didn't even LIKE.
The next time we went is I think when I found the super-soft blankies Henry liked, and the next time after that is when I found the $2 measuring spoons that are my reigning favorites, and then I found a really pretty magazine holder:
So then me and T. J. Maxx were B. F. Fxx, pretty much. I still wasn't much keen on Marshalls. But then---I found the Swistle-colored purse accessories. I still LOVE those. I also found two Melissa and Doug puzzles there, and a Maisy DVD, and a pair of Converse tennies for William, and a pretty mirror, and...well. You know how it goes: it starts out as an innocent flirtation, and before you know it you're two-timing Target. Or three-timing. Or four-timing, once I'd found a British Castles serving platter, a set of juice glasses, three pictures for Elizabeth's room, a Hello Kitty journal, and a pack of Maisy notecards at Home Goods.
And so a year has quickly passed, and meanwhile my house has changed. Take a look at this corner of my living room:
I have drawn an arrow to each thing that was purchased from T. J. Maxx or Marshalls. Metal antique-finish oval decorative mirror on chain? ARROW. Old-fashioned drawing of lady with parasol? ARROW. Metal antique-finish round clock? ARROW. Old-fashioned drawing of birdie? ARROW. Nothing was more than $10. Oh, wait---the mirror might have been $11. But the bird picture was only $5. (Also, could you please tell that FERN THING to BACK OFF?)
This is the last day to order from Amazon.com with the free shipping and still get it before Christmas. If you still have some shopping to do, I suggest waggling your eyebrows in the direction of my new flings.
Edit: Okay, I feel a little dumb because I was thinking T. J. Maxx and Marshalls were just Remarkably Similar (also: I thought "Marshalls" had an apostrophe in it), but it turns out they are, like, basically the same store, owned by the same people. And those people explained it to me very politely and then asked if I would like to give away a $25 gift card to either T. J. Maxx or Marshalls, and I know you guys are not exactly rolling in the big bucks so I said I would.
Normally I wouldn't make a contest over so quick, but some of you are probably worrying about holiday shopping and so I want to get the gift card to you before the holidays if possible, and so I'm only going to have the contest until tomorrow morning. If you live near a T. J. Maxx and/or a Marshalls, leave a comment on this post by 8:00 a.m. U.S. Pacific Time on December 18th, and tell me which store you'd rather have a gift card to. I'll use a random number generator to choose a winner and we'll get that gift card on its way.
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