What is HomeSense?
HomeSense is a home furnishings retailer and department store that operates a chain of 147 no-frills, off-price that sell an ever-changing selection of bedding, bath, kitchen, seasonal decor and furniture items that vary in quality from low-end to recognizable name brands.
HomeSense buys last year’s styles, over-produced/overstock products and factory seconds in bulk at a discount directly from manufacturers and other retailers and sells them at discounted prices generally 20% to 60% below other retailers’ regular prices. Unlike other retailers, they generally don’t do promotions, sales or coupons.
Introduced to Canada in 2001, HomeSense is owned by US-based TJX Companies, which also owns the Winners and Marshalls chains of stores in Canada. Many of the same towels, bedding, floor mats, candles, storage baskets and bath items at HomeSense can also be found at Winners.
- Everyday discounts of 20% to 60%
- Name brand products
- Inventory turns over regularly
- Stores are not stocked equally
- Roughly organised by department, but with minimal signage
- Takes time and a discerning eye to find the real deals
Not every ‘deal’ is real
500 ml of maple syrup was selling for $12.99 at HomeSense which according to their price tag is comparable at full-price retailers’ (including department, specialty, and major online retailers) regular prices on comparable merchandise for $17:
However, from a quick check of prices at local, specialty and major retailers, $12.99 isn’t a good price for a half litre of maple syrup (unless its local, independent, organic, etc.), and it was actually hard to find a run-of-the-mill maple syrup selling for more than $15, let alone $17.
- Walmart: $8.47 for 540 ml
- NoFrills: $14.99 for 1L
- Winding Road Maple Products in Elmira, ON: $13
- Cosman & Webb Organic Maple Syrup: $20
This may not the most fair example as few HomeSense customers likely go to buy maple syrup, but its an illustration of how little you should read into the “comparable at” price shown on their price labels. It’s probably better to think of that price as the absolute maximum price that HomeSense could find for sale at another retailer of any kind on a comparable (not even identical) product.
Does HomeSense offer online shopping in Canada?
No, HomeSense does not offer online shopping in Canada. Products are only available in-store. You can find the store nearest you using their Store Locator.
The shift to buying online and pressure from the likes of Amazon and Walmart has brought about the demise of department stores such as Sears and many other brick-and-mortar retailers, but business has never been better for HomeSense’s parent company TJX, which made $48.5 billion in sales in 2021, likely due to their low prices and “treasure hunt” experience.
What does HomeSense sell?
HomeSense sells kitchenware, cookware, home decor such as art, mirrors and rugs as well as some small furniture, toys and pet products.
The products I looked at were made primarily made in India, with some made in Vietnam and third most common were those made in China.
Note: The products shown below were available at the time of publication at my local HomeSense and are not representative of the merchandise available in the future at other stores. The purpose of this list is to serve as a reference showing the types of products that are available at HomeSense.
Measuring cups, whisks, rolling pins, bowls, storage containers
Dishes, platters, serving trays
Shower curtains, bath pillows, shower caddys
End and side tables
Ottomans and benches
Duvet covers and comforters
- Dining table
Storage & organization
Laundry baskets and trash cans
Body wash, foot scrub, bath bombs, hand soap, hand cream, razors
Nerf guns, tool set, cars, dinosaurs, educational
Captain underpants, Sesame Street, Disney, Marvel
Pet beds and bowls
Pet treats and bowls
HomeSense shopping tips (and things to be aware of)
HomeSense is similar to a thrift store, except the products are brand new instead of used.
- Best prices are in January and February when they have their giant Final Clearance sales.
- Look for the bright red stickers, it means the price has been reduced.
- Markdowns happen first thing every day, so if you want to find the treasures, be there when the store opens.
- New inventory typically arrives in the mornings on Monday and Friday, so get there early on those days before the good stuff is gone.
- Know what to look for and have an idea of at what price an item is a good deal.
- Check the expiry dates on food and snacks as some may be close (or even past) their best before date.
The assortment of products changes regularly and stock is spread out between stores to make it seem like there are only a few of the item, which creates a feeling of uniqueness, scarcity and urgency, encouraging customers to visit regularly and buy more.
Each department is deliberately barely organised to create a “treasure hunt” shopping experience. You have to be willing to take the time to look through the shelves in order to find the best deals.
If someone finds a good deal they like that produces the “thrill of the find”, and they’re more likely to keep looking around to see what other deals they might find, and thus end up purchasing more.
Where does HomeSense get their products?
Their opportunistic buying from 21,000 vendors across 100 countries capitalises on:
- Closeouts: vendor wants to clear merchandise at the end of a season
- Co-purchases: vendor wants to buy a product but the minimum order is too large, they make a deal with HomeSense in order to make the order and the extra goes to HomeSense.
- Order cancellations: vendor has excess inventory and must cancel an order, or have HomeSense take it off their hands at a discount.
- Overruns: manufacturer makes too much product
- In-house: some product is developed and sold under in-house or licensed brands in order to supplement the depth of or fill gaps in their expected merchandise assortment.
How does HomeSense keep prices low?
- Buying in bulk and taking advantage of other retailers’ missteps.
- No-frills stores with pipe-racks, wood tables, linoleum flooring and austere decor.
- No typical retail concessions (such as advertising, promotional and markdown allowances), delivery concessions (such as drop shipments to stores or delayed deliveries) or return privileges
- Floor space has no walls or permanent fixtures, so departments are flexible and can be easily adjusted to accommodate incoming products.
- Operate with low inventory levels thanks to fast inventory turnover
What brands does HomeSense sell?
HomeSense sells a lot of recognizable name brand items, but not always in the product categories you’d expect. Here are a few examples:
- KitchenAid measuring spoons
- Lagostina non-stick frying pan
- Cuisinart non-stick frying pan, kitchen towels
- Calphalon frying pan
- Zwilling pots
- T-fal drying mats
- Laura Ashley tablecloth
- DKNY towels
- Calvin Klein shower curtain, duvet
- Ralph Lauren comforter, pillow
- Ugg comforter
- Sealy pillow
- Nautica pillow
- Eddie Bauer comforter
- Tommy Hilfiger comforter
What is HomeSense’s return policy?
Items can be fully refunded to the original payment method within 10 days of purchase if you have the original receipt, the tickets are still attached to products and the item is in sellable condition. After 10 days, the refund will be in the form of a gift card.
If you don’t have a receipt, returns are at the discretion of the store and can be declined. If a return is approved, you must provide photo ID and the refund will be given in the form of a gift card.
- Bargains at Winners not always what they appear – CBC Marketplace
- TJX Companies Inc. 2021 Annual Report
Over to you
We’re interested to know – what’s the best deal you’ve ever found at HomeSense? Let us know by leaving a comment below!