Best Of 2021: "Rae Dunn Women" Are Terrorizing TJ Maxx Employees For Ceramics That Have Words On Them

Recently the video above (with 3M+ views) came across my feed and I didn't understand it at all. It was a woman complaining about "Rae Dunn women" harassing & making employees lives' miserable... but what the hell was "Rae Dunn" & why were people flipping out over it?

Some in the comments called it "Karen Nectar", "an adult version of the Beanie Babies craze", and "the LuLaRoe of ceramics". Ah, ok... so it's ceramics? 

Ohhhhhhh, these... 

Turns out Rae Dunn is a ceramic artist with a popular line of plain, mostly white ceramics with a specific font on them that are either sassy (a coffee mug that says 'YASSS QUEEN'), live-laugh-lovey (a bird house imprinted with 'HOPE'), cutesy label-oriented (a butter dish that says 'BUTTER DISH'), or seasonal (a Halloween candy dish that says 'SPOOKY'). Apparently collectors cannot get enough of the stuff, especially as Fall approaches, clearly...

It's been so popular the line has expanded to inspirational underwear (cut to me ripping a hot one in POWERFUL panties (IF farting was something I did, which I don't)), pillows, journals, etc., plus lots of collabs and whatnot. If you can slap a word across it there's probably a Rae Dunn font version. Would not be shocked to see it on a grave after the rabbit hole I went down.

Digging further, I looked up #RaeDunn hashtags on Instagram & it's clear the fervor is real. Plus there's a wide array of FB groups, some with tens of thousands of members, dedicated to hunting, trading & sharing the brand. 

I'm behind the times - It's a whole thing and has been for a minute. And sure, they're definitely cute if you're a 'live, laugh, love' type (not here to judge, I have zero sense of style), but I still didn't see what the fuss was about or why the hell anyone would spend their time lurking & attacking carts of product for it. 

Upon further review, the excitement seems to be in the fun of 'building a display' - mixing and matching all the pieces to show off in a hutch or china cabinet specifically for Rae Dunn & Rae Dunn only (brilliant marketing by Rae Dunn) & then taking aesthetically pleasing photos of said collection for Instagram. 

And, more importantly, depending on the pieces, these affordable, punny, little mugs and vessels can re-sell for a good amount of coin:

Thus the urgency/assholery of a small but mighty portion of "Dunn Hunters" who unleash their inner design demons on the masses..

In a series of TikToks other employees mentioned 'Rae Dunn Women' loitering literally all day from store open to store close waiting to leap on any new boxes that came out from the storage area, calling corporate to accuse workers of stealing/breaking things on purpose so that they could have the good pieces, sucking up to, tattling on, bumping into & intimidating employees, ripping boxes open & making messes as employees tried to push carts through the aisles, arguing with each other,… And other customers of these stores (TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Home Goods) also piped in to say they'd been harassed by these women, too, for daring to pick up key Rae Dunn pieces. 

Here's an employee opening the store & telling them he knows what they're here looking for & they don't have it, which slows them down none of course. Some would say this is poor behavior towards customers regardless, but I imagine it's a man at the end of his Rae Dunn rope:

And this little compilation / voiceover explains it all pretty well (would have been really helpful to include this sooner in the blog, Kate):

For fledgling collectors there are thorough Rae Dunn guides on where to look, how to collect it & what pieces are most valuable. The one I read even went as far as to remind Dunnheads that employees are human beings, which is pretty telling:

  • Employees hate when you ravage the tanks as they are putting things out, but if you ask nicely if there are any RD items on the cart, you will get a lot farther. Sometimes the items from the tank never make it to the shelf before they are grabbed up, so never pass a tank by without at least a quick inspection! In my personal experience, I have learned to get to know many of the workers at all three stores, always being polite and respectful. Many employees are tired of the drama that comes up with Rae Dunn items, so I keep that in mind when I’m asking if anything new is out. 

  • Check all over the store. These stores have designated “Rae Dunn” areas, but you will also find it in the clearance section, with holiday items, at the registers, in pets, and sometimes people tuck items completely out of place. Other shoppers, and sometimes even the employees will hide Rae Dunn items around the store, so always look thoroughly.

They also have more acronyms than the US Military. These are just a few:

  • DISO- Desperately in search of
  • HTF- Hard To Find
  • LL- Long/Large Letters
  • OG- Original Rae Dunn item (the first release of an item, plus has lots of dimples in the canisters) 
  • RD-Rae Dunn, of course!
  • Unicorn- Item you’re really looking for, hard to find
  • In the wild- we often use this phrase to say it was found in the store rather than online through somewhere like Mercari or as a trade.

And have box codes memorized (again, with another reminder to "ask before ripping into the boxes"!!!): 

When I was a kid the hot collectable among grown women in my neighborhood was Longaberger Baskets. We'd have Longaberger Basket Bingo to raise money for our sports teams & people would go nuts over winning certain pieces. I feel like those baskets lined the staircases & cabinet-tops of nearly every friend's house I went to, though this was before the internet so I don't think they beat anyone up for it. 

And goes without saying but I'm sure most collectors are lovely, and life is tough so I get the allure of any hobby that delights & distracts & gives someone 'their own thing', you do you! But man… retail employees already have it rough as is (the midtown Manhattan Old Navy comes to mind, I have never been there when it hasn't looked like a tornado just went through)… if you're making their workday any more frustrating than it already is you suuuuuuuuuuuck. 

Which brings me to the hero of this story, someone standing up for those employees with delightful troll jobs. She makes her own mugs with sayings such as BUSSY, QUEEF, BIG TITS & BLEACH and 'droplifts' them in the stores among the other Rae Dunn items.

Update: Rae Dunn legal team reached out & Etsy made her take down her shop, to which she responded by moving to a new website & making a LIVE, LAUGH, LAWSUIT mug. 

Consider me a fan.