I used to be a Maxxinista, but until last weekend, I couldn’t tell you the last time I set foot inside a TJ Maxx. But last week, we had some neighbors over for a doggy playdate and drinks (for the humans), and they were talking about a recent shopping trip to the go-to discount store of my past.

For the next few days, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. For the duration of the pandemic, I didn’t miss TJ Maxx at all. I barely thought about it. All it took was one conversation about someone else’s failed quest to find shoes for a wedding and I started jonesing for a trip to TJ Maxx to find treasures from clothing and home goods to toiletries and dog accessories.

So, I went.

And it was….fine.

I did end up buying some things, but as I was browsing, I realized that I’ve become disenchanted with the concept. My shopping habits—and the stores and brands that I prefer to support—have changed. For example, I found a pair of sandals that were along the lines of something I had been looking for. But I was having trouble assessing the quality and decided that I’d rather buy a pair that I know will hold up from a brand that I love. I was also eyeing some trendy tie-dyed pieces, but remembered that Parks Project has some similar items while also partnering with over 45 Park Conservancies across the US to fund projects that preserve the future of public lands. The same goes for housewares: I bought a couple throw pillows that my dogs will inevitably destroy, but for the things that last longer, I’d rather find them at local boutiques, antique stores, or thrift shops. (Plus, I never really understood the fandom surrounding Rae Dunn.)

Besides being an ode to shopping local/independent/for social good, this post is also a reflection on a way the pandemic has changed my habits. Clearly, even just hearing someone talk about TJ Maxx triggers quite the response in me and I probably need to work on those cravings; but, I’m curious about other ways I’ve changed. It might take more of a return to normalcy to identify them, though.

What about you? How have you changed—as a consumer, a colleague, a partner, a person—over the course of the past 14 months or so?

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