Gaylen DiSanto has been “lost” without the TJ Maxx and HomeGoods in Mount Airy since they closed last November after a tornado caused extensive damage to the stores.
The Mount Airy woman, her best friend, her mother and her sister would go to the store sometimes twice a week to walk around, catch up and shop.
The women love the store so much that they even had a professional photographer come take photos of them there — in the entrance, with merchandise and in the aisles — before it was shut down by the tornado.
The TJ Maxx and HomeGoods on Twin Arch Road in Mount Airy closed after a tornado came through the town on Nov. 2, 2018, and greatly damaged the building. The roof collapsed, and the water on top of the roof rushed in. About 8 inches of standing water remained in the building after the collapse.
The building was condemned, and the store has remained closed since.
The store will finally reopen more than a year later on Nov. 10 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, said Pam Reed, president of the Mount Airy Main Street Association.
Katie MacLeod, public relations specialist for TJ Maxx, said that the store is expected to open in November, but could not provide further details.
Reed said that having the TJ Maxx back will help the local economy.
“A lot of people don’t realize this, but some of the businesses in that complex lost business,” she said.
DiSanto said that she and her friends plan to have their own pre-ribbon-cutting celebration in the parking lot.
Holly Coats, of Mount Airy, has been waiting for the store to reopen all year. She remembers planning to head to the store to buy a pair of boots her mother wanted for Christmas the same night the tornado hit.
She didn’t make it to the store in time and waited patiently for it to reopen. She was saddened to hear that they wouldn’t open until at least March 2019.
“Thankful they will be opening a couple days before my 30th birthday. Happy early birthday to me!” she wrote in an email.
Other Frederick County residents are excited to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony, even without a pre-party. Erin Knicley lives in Urbana, so she is near the Urbana Pike store outside Frederick, but is excited to have a HomeGoods closer to her.
Before the store was shut down, Laura Zaborowski of Mount Airy remembers standing in line at the TJ Maxx behind a woman who was on her phone. The woman was saying that she drove up to Mount Airy from Germantown because it has the best TJ Maxx store.
“Is this really special?” Zaborowski asked hypothetically in an email. “Easy parking and accessibility, friendly staff, and a clean store certainly weigh in its favor. But that’s not solely due to the store itself. That’s because it’s part of Mount Airy.”
Still, Zaborowski thinks that Mount Airy has plenty to offer besides the TJ Maxx.
“In the near year it’s been gone, social media posts have lamented and lambasted its absence, but we had no void of shopping alternatives. Downtown alone, there’s SK Gifts, Creative Array, and Mount Airy Commons to offer consumers solace,” she wrote. “And the Mount Airy Arts Fest in June put local artisans on display. The TJ Maxx is a piece of the Mount Airy business pie, [but] not the linchpin to our identity.”