LaTonya Mullins-Mobley was surfing the web for Arizona Cardinals gear when she stumbled across an ad for Temu , the Chinese online-marketplace app known for ultra-discounts. She couldn’t believe the low prices.

These days, Mullins-Mobley, who is 53 and works for a cellphone carrier, jokes that she’s “having an affair” with the app. She buys clothing, including T-shirts with Bible quotes for her daughter. She started a sunglasses company, picking up pairs from Temu for $3 and selling them for around $15.

Her 19-year-old-daughter, Angeline Mobley, isn’t impressed.

Angeline recently made a TikTok in which she begged viewers to take the Temu app away from her mother, actually, any mother, “expeditiously. ASAP. Stat.” She hit a chord. “My mom bought 57 of the same spatulas bc they were .03,” one commenter commiserated.

Mullins-Mobley, the mom, isn’t fazed. “You can laugh all you want, but I am shopping like a billionaire,” she says, quoting Temu’s company tag line.

Temu has made its parent, PDD, China’s most valuable e-commerce company, and it is now one of the fastest-growing online retailers among American consumers, ​​thanks to its dizzying array of discount products, from handbags to electronics to kitchen gadgets, such as collapsible funnels or a 3-tier electric food steamer.

The app is a particular hit with older shoppers—a development that is spawning a new genre of family friction. Gen Z’ers are roasting their moms, dads, grandmothers and uncles as “Temu victims,” saying they are buying cheap and sometimes useless stuff from the site.

Um, Dad, are you OK?

Temu’s rise has been meteoric since entering the U.S. in 2022. It is the latest Chinese company to draw in shoppers with rock-bottom prices, following AliExpress, Wish and Shein .

In March, Temu’s fastest-growing demographic was the 55 to 64 set. Sales attributed to that age group grew 271% since last March, according to Earnest Analytics. Temu is expected to spend nearly $3 billion on advertising this year, according to JPMorgan.

@janaciaangelinemommy i love u💖 just stop using temu💖💖 they make the best sleep shirts tho♬ original sound – janacia angeline supremc⭐️

Ashlyn Smith, a 31-year-old radio traffic sales coordinator in St. Louis, says her father found the site from a Facebook ad and he now messages her daily with a link to download Temu, so he can get a kickback of credit (an app feature). Smith says he likes to buy her jewelry, and toys for her children.

“He’s really into fantasy and got all these kitchen and living room things with dragons on them,” adds Smith. “He even got a tapestry.”

Kelly Boyi, 29, a project manager outside Toronto, says his retired 61-year-old father usually spends his downtime cooking, reading and taking long walks—and typically doesn’t even surf shopping sites.

So he could hardly believe it when his dad hurried to the door a few weeks ago to receive a Temu delivery. His haul included a T-shirt, socks and a phone stand.

“I was like, ‘Temu? Really?’” Boyi says. “If they get to my dad, they can get to anyone.”

A spokesperson said Temu uses common marketing strategies to appeal to new customers: “We urge customers to make informed decisions before completing a purchase, and we’re pleased to offer affordable options that meet their diverse needs.”

‘It’s only 98 cents and it’s cute, so you need it.’

Karen Sacavage, a 66-year-old crafter and Wegmans cashier in Pennsylvania, is a fan. She sells custom decorative tassels and found jaw-dropping prices for beads, trimming and fringe. She nabbed a collapsible colander for $1.85, much less than the $19 she saw other home goods stores selling it for.

“I’m a gadget freak for kitchen stuff and you can go crazy on there,” Sacavage says. “And if I didn’t like it, I only spent 98 cents, so it wasn’t a tragedy.”

Tales of Temu merch taking over homes now abound across America.

Aniya Lewis, a 19-year-old college freshman in Pennsylvania, describes her mom as a “Temu warlock.” When Lewis came home from college in February, she discovered her mom had redecorated her room using Temu, covering the space with matching pink linens and curtains that say “hello gorgeous” and feature eyelashes. Her bathroom ’s shower curtain, toilet seat cover and carpet have the same design. Lewis says she screamed when she saw the Temu makeover.

“My mom likes expensive things, so I don’t really even know what the allure is,” she says of Temu. “She went on a cruise and got all her clothing off Temu,” Lewis adds.

Muhammad Al-Ansari says he was surprised when his 56-year-old mother, Maria—who rarely shops—went all out on Temu for Ramadan decorations, home decor, and was recently posting in the family WhatsApp group that she wanted to buy everyone matching rings too.

“This is someone who has, like, that one discontinued lotion from Bath & Body Works , and yet here she is, browsing Temu,” says Al-Ansari, a 29-year-old server and musician in Tampa, Fla.

As in most bargain shopping , Temu regulars say part of the appeal is stumbling across items they—or anyone—could probably do just fine without.

“You’ve lived your life without that pasta spoon rest, but then you see it and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s genius and it’s only 98 cents, and it’s cute,’ so you need it,” says Chaunda Thompson, a 44-year-old marine shipyard painter in Newport News, Va.

Thompson says she finds good deals on Temu clothing, shoes and outerwear, as well as little beauty tools and kitchen gadgets. She says Temu grabs her attention with its rewards system, where the app gives credit to users who open Temu often, leave reviews or refer friends.

“I check Temu every day, if not every two days, and I have to be honest, it’s embarrassing,” Thompson says. Her son, she adds, has accused her of being “addicted”— but so be it.

“It doesn’t bother me that he teases me,” she says. “It bothers me more to pay more money.”

Write to Chavie Lieber at