Shoppers took in the bright lights, illuminating an array of items they can purchase to beautify their homes, as they filed into the new Homesense store in Bel Air Thursday morning.
The store, the fourth of its name in Maryland, occupies a 30,000 square-foot space, next to the Sprouts Farmers Market grocery store, in the Tollgate Marketplace shopping center at Route 24 and Baltimore Pike. The space had previously been occupied by Toys R Us and Babies R Us, which closed in 2018.
“I think it’s great,” Bel Air Mayor Amy Chmielewski said of the new Homesense. “It’s great for the shopping center; it’s great for the area.”
Chmielewski and Town Commissioner Donna Kahoe attended the grand opening ceremony early Thursday morning. Events included a ribbon-cutting and a presentation of a $10,000 contribution from Homesense to support Anna’s House, which supports local families in need of shelter.
John Cropper, of Bel Air South, walked around the store with his wife, Mi, and 4-year-old son, Joseph. They and other customers could browse an array of merchandise, including home furnishings, lamps, rugs, mirrors, window drapes, dining and cookware, plus bathroom accessories. There also are shelves filled with items for decoration — many of them spring or beach themed — such as pictures and ceramics.
“It has some really nice things,” Cropper said of the store.
He said his mother would “love” the framed artwork for her beach house, and the merchandise could spark decorating ideas for his own house, which he and his family moved into last July.
Chmielewski, the Bel Air mayor, said she was “overwhelmed” by the options, telling Kahoe that “it’s going to take me three days to go through the store.”
Chmielewski noted her teenage daughter works at the Bel Air store part-time. She also suggested that she and her husband could take a joint shopping trip to Tollgate Marketplace, with her husband visiting the Home Depot across Marketplace Drive, her visiting the Homesense and then both visiting the Sprouts to go grocery shopping.
Kahoe also praised Homesense, citing its “amazing” and varied inventory and “pretty good” prices.
“It’s a lot to choose from,” she said of the merchandise.
Homesense is part of The TJX Companies Inc., headquartered in Massachusetts; the parent company operates retail brands such as HomeGoods, Marshalls, Sierra and T.J. Maxx, as well as Homesense. The company has brick-and-mortar and online retail operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe.
There are more than 20 Homesense stores in the U.S., including four in Maryland — the others are located in Annapolis, Columbia and Owings Mills.
“We are thrilled that Homesense brings a vast and unique selection for customers to discover and curate the homes of their dreams,” John Ricciuti, U.S. president for Homesense and HomeGoods, said in a statement.
Jennifer Crosson, resources development manager for Anna’s House, visited the store with her colleagues Thursday and accepted an oversized check representing Homesense’s $10,000 contribution.
“They were so very generous this morning," Crosson said in an interview later Thursday, noting “that kind of money can change lives for some of our clients.”
“It’s a huge help, and it will make a huge difference in what we do,” she said.
Anna’s House, which is one of about 80 programs in the region affiliated with Catholic Charities of Baltimore, provides multiple services to families experiencing homelessness, domestic violence and other issues that cause them to be in need of shelter. More information is available online.
Homesense’s contribution can help a family pay a security deposit on an apartment, cover moving expenses, or it can support Anna’s House services such as rapid re-housing, life skills and self-sufficiency.