- The TJ Maxx where Amber Heard was spotted is a secret gem in the affluent Hamptons.
- Reality star and Hamptonite Jill Zarin said "it's literally like Saks Fifth Avenue in the Hamptons."
- An East Hampton resident said of the TJ Maxx location: "Everyone goes there."
The biggest open secret in the Hamptons isn't the latest cool new restaurant opening or celeb sighting. It's a TJ Maxx discount chain store nestled in a nondescript strip mall off Montauk Highway.
While the rest of the world gawked at Amber Heard shopping at the TJ Maxx store last week, the actor — whose high-profile defamation case with ex-husband Johnny Depp wrapped after a jury found both parties liable for defamation — knows something they don't: It's the secret hot spot of the fabled East End.
The under-the-radar, 33,000-square-foot TJ Maxx outpost in the ultra-exclusive hamlet of Bridgehampton — where the average home sale is $3.62 million — has almost become a sartorial speakeasy for budget-conscious elites and the summering class.
Mona Sharaf, a personal shopper in New York, has a finite amount of time when she schleps out to the Hamptons from Manhattan during the summer months, but she makes time for TJ Maxx.
"I make it a point to shop there — it's a great secret," Sharaf said. "They cater these designer clothes to the neighborhood. They merchandise based on who the clientele is. That's why you''ll find nicer stuff in Bridgehampton versus Brooklyn."
Sharaf, who says she has whisked her clients to the discount chain, said a $1,000 budget will stretch further at TJ Maxx than any retail boutique. "Instead of two pieces, you can get six," she said.
And lest anyone catch her under the harsh fluorescent lights at the store, Sharaf said there's no embarrassment on her part. "I run into friends there — there's no shame in getting a good deal," she said.
When reached by phone, a TJ Maxx associate at the Bridgehampton location demurred when I asked about celebrity shoppers in the store. "I guess so, especially in the summertime, but I don't really know offhand. I couldn't really tell you," an unidentified clerk said.
But Hamptons experts swear by the "Runway" section of the store, which includes top-tier designers like Dolce & Gabbana, Badgley Mishka, Balmain, and many more. It's also the section where Heard and her sister, Whitney Henriquez, were filmed shopping.
The best open secret in the Hamptons is also a favorite of local celebrities
"It's literally like Saks Fifth Avenue in the Hamptons," Hamptons fixture and "Real Housewives of New York" alum, Jill Zarin. The reality star, along with her daughter, even has a line of candles under their Jill & Ally brand, carried at the store. "My friends go there all the time," said Zarin, who will meet them to shop there or have her boyfriend wait in the car.
Zarin explained the mystique. "They only buy a few pieces of something per store — they want it to be a scavenger hunt," she said of the TJ Maxx location. "You can find Tory Burch shoes that might be still in a store in town."
Hamptons insider and real-estate broker, Bianca D'Alessio, a star of the Discovery+ reality show "Selling the Hamptons," called the store "a secret gem" among all the boutiques throughout the East End. "I'm always on a mission there. You're going in with a mission," she said.
"Everybody goes there — especially that one," socialite and blogger Stacy Geisinger, who has a summer place in nearby East Hampton, told Insider of the store. "It's a secret hot spot that no one talks about," she added, noting that "fancy people" eat up the assortment of Pucci, Vince, and Valentino on offer. "They don't want to share, so there's more for them," Geisinger, the blogger behind Stacy Knows, said, noting the competition for limited pieces: "Well, they might talk about it to me, a size 14, if they're a size 2."
Geisinger recalls one woman on the gala circuit who clued her in on the store years ago. "She came over to me and said, 'The best TJ Maxx in the entire country is here in the Hamptons,'" Geisinger said.
There's still one faux pas Geisinger warned about: leaving the telltale tag on, which Geisinger says she once spotted on someone in the Hamptons. "If you can find something and it fits, and it's designer, who cares if it's from TJ Maxx? Nobody needs to know — as long as you take that big tag off," she said. "Everybody knows what their tag looks like."
Geisinger loves her printed Pucci dress that she snagged for less than $300. She slipped into the slinky bright-paletted dress to the Shop the Day Away Luncheon at the legendary Breakers hotel in Florida's Palm Beach this past winter with confidence. "I felt like a million bucks," she told Insider, "but I only spent a few hundred."
For philanthropist and influencer Jean Shafiroff, she can always find something at the Hamptons location.
"They have just about everything there you could want and more," Shafiroff said, adding that she has brought her composer friend, Lucia Hwong Gordon, along to shop at the store. Shafiroff recalled snagging a Runway dress for her daughter. "It was designer and a fraction of the price, which was great," she said. "Let's face it: everyone loves a bargain."