America: ‘At Home’ With Absurd Consumer Excess, by Addison Del Mastro

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March 20, 2020
Daily Reading & Meditation: Friday (March 20)
March 20, 2020

Four full-length aisles dedicated to pillows. Addison Del Mastro

The home goods superstore, often situated in the ruins of old strip malls, is like an algorithmic fever dream.

By Addison Del Mastro, American Conservative, March 20, 2020

Addison Del Mastro is assistant editor of The American Conservative.  He is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and writes on urbanism, place, and popular and cultural history.

At Home in Chantilly, Virginia. Addison Del Mastro.

Every culture has a custom or symbol that encapsulates its entire way of life. For example, a salami hanging from the ceiling of a cramped neighborhood deli is Italy. Japan is a tea ceremony or an orderly subway rush hour. And for us, that condensed cultural symbol is not the Declaration of Independence or the ragtag militia or the all-American con man with a bridge to sell you. It’s a big-box store called At Home.

Founded in 1979 and hitting the stock market in 2016, At Home hails—where else?—from Texas. They are not particularly well-known or widespread, with a little over 200 locations at present; however, they plan to double twice over in the coming years. Most of their stores are located in existing buildings vacated by the likes of K-Mart and JCPenney (and even, in Frederick, Maryland, a vacated Walmart). Consider how large one of these buildings is, and then consider that At Home is dedicated entirely to home goods and decor. Imagine a lovechild of Michael’s and the aforementioned Walmart, then imagine dropping acid in said store, and you may get a small sense of what it is like to browse At Home.  ….

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