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The ‘Kondo effect’: Popular Netflix show may be boosting donations to thrift stores

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Gennifer Peavey, store owner and manager of Second Impressions in East Grand Forks, sorts through donations. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service2 / 3
Gennifer Peavey, store owner and manager of Second Impressions in East Grand Forks, attributes some of the increase in donations to "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo," a popular Netflix series. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service3 / 3

GRAND FORKS — Managers of some thrift and resale stores are noticing an uptick in donations they say may be due to Marie Kondo’s popular Netflix program on decluttering and organizing the home.

The show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” is part of Kondo’s latest effort to “organize the world.”

In each episode, Kondo helps a family, couple or individual with a clutter situation. Her strategy involves reducing items by category, rather than by room, and only keeping items that “spark joy.”

The best-selling author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” preaches an approach some call “Draconian,” while others credit her method with changing their lives.

Walker Waage, the manager at Plato’s Closet in Grand Forks, a resale shop for teens and young adults, said he’s seen the Kondo effect at his store.

“We’ve seen a lot more people coming in,” he said. “We have heard some people refer to Marie Kondo when they come in with things to sell,” Waage said. “(Some) say they’ve seen her show, and it prompted them to clean out and reorganize, to keep things fresh.”

At the Goodwill thrift store in Grand Forks, Jodi Hodny, east regional director, said customers “do mention (Kondo’s show). They say, ‘This brings me joy, so I’m going to buy it.’”

The local Goodwill has seen a slight increase in donations this year, but Hodny said it’s difficult to say whether Kondo influenced it.

“I don’t think we’ve seen a big fluctuation in more donations. But some people who donate say, ‘I don’t feel joy with this anymore,’ and we kind of laugh.”

Executives of Easter Seals Goodwill International responded to the Kondo craze by alerting members of their marketing staff to urge people to donate to its retail centers.

“(They) have encouraged me, as a marketing person, to ask people, ‘are you working on cleaning up, and do you have items that don’t bring you joy’ through social media,” said Justine Braun, marketing coordinator for Goodwill in Mandan, N.D.

Abolishing clutter

Kondo’s influence accounts for at least some of the increased donations Gennifer Peavey has received at Second Impressions in East Grand Forks.

“I just had two donations yesterday because of her,” said Peavey, store owner and manager.

“I’ve talked with people who want to do it, but haven’t worked up the courage to do it yet.”

Exposed to Kondo’s methods, “most people see the cleaning aspect, but they don’t see the ‘why and how’ of it,” she said.

Kondo’s approach taps into the psychological relationship people have with their possessions.

How much it leads to decluttering “all depends on how gung-ho you are, I guess,” Peavey said.

Most donations are clothing, she said. “That’s something that everybody has too much of. It’s the most disposable thing people have at the moment.”

At the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Thrift Store in Grand Forks, store and warehouse manager Jo Martin isn’t sure Kondo’s teachings are responsible for the upswing as much as changes in the culture.

“And younger people no longer want Grandma’s antiques,” whether because of lack of desire, space to keep them or a preference for a “streamlined and minimalist” home environment.

“We’re moving toward a mobile, more minimalistic culture,” she said. “And we’re an aging population — truthfully, there are more people dying than being born. There’s more stuff than people to take it.”