Kristen Jonet knew about Marie Kondo, whose advice book for tidying homes became a bestseller five years ago, but didn’t pay attention to her ideas until seeing her new Netflix show.
Jonet and her husband watched all eight episodes, then started cleaning their Minneapolis home and have since made multiple trips to the Cake Plus-Size Resale shop and to a Goodwill store with belongings they no longer need.
“We started with clothes, then we bought drawer organizers for the kitchen. We’re still waiting on the garage until it warms up,” Jonet said. “My husband and I call it the Marie Kondo-ing of our lives.”
Around the Twin Cities, the post-holiday winter clean-out turned into a blowout this year. And owners and employees at shops that deal in used goods and consignments think Kondo’s show is the reason why.
“Last January was painfully slow for my business, but this January is literally double what it was last year,” said Cat Polivoda, owner of Cake Plus-Size Resale in Minneapolis.
Since the Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” debuted Jan. 1, Polivoda said nearly everyone who brings in clothes to sell mentions Kondo or her tidying process, dubbed the KonMari method.
“KonMari fever has been treating us very well,” she said.
Kondo’s method, explained when her Japanese book was translated into English in 2014 as “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” encourages people to focus on what they want to keep by holding each item and asking themselves, “Does this spark joy?”
The “spark joy” question is also coming up with shoppers at used-goods stores. Mary Griffin has noticed customers at her consignment shop, Rodeo Drive in St. Louis Park, invoking Kondo when they decided not to buy something.
“It didn’t spark joy,” Griffin said she hears people saying.
Chad Olson, chief operating officer at NTY Franchise Co. in Minnetonka, sells franchises across the country for Clothes Mentor, NTY Clothing Exchange, Children’s Orchard, Device Pitstop and New Uses stores. He said many of his apparel franchisees are seeing 25 percent increases in purchases since the show’s January debut.
At Half Price Books, purchases from customers are up 20 percent over last January, Darrin Walker, the chain’s district manager in Minnesota, said via e-mail. “In addition to New Year’s resolutions, customers have been mentioning [Kondo’s] show as the reason they have been selling items to us,” he said.
Jim Melcher of Edina took laundry baskets piled high with books to Half Price Books in St. Louis Park after watching several episodes of “Tidying Up.” “We’re clearing away books on shelves and the floor to create a sewing room,” he said. “We’re cutting deep in the backlog.”
Clothing and books are popular purges, but not household furniture. At least not yet. Olson said his franchisees nationwide aren’t seeing a dramatic increase in used furniture or electronics. Kay Frandsen, who owns Wabi Sabi furniture consignment in Wayzata, is hearing about thrift shops and clothing consignment shops getting slammed.
“Not us, unfortunately,” she said.
Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores in Minneapolis and New Brighton are among the few home furnishings resale shops seeing more donations this month. “We are seeing more drop-off donations for tools and garage and basement items,” Pete O’Keefe, senior operations manager for Habitat ReStores, said in an e-mail. “Our two trucks with free pickup of good quality furniture have greatly exceeded the number of stops compared to last January.”
Michele Vig, who owns Neat Little Nest organizing in Minneapolis, is one of three Minnesotans to take a training course with Kondo and receive a certification in the process. She said it makes sense that used clothing and book stores are seeing the most action first as more people discover Kondo.
“There’s an order to which Marie wants you to do the categories. First clothing, then books, paper and finally miscellaneous items like furnishings and photos,” Vig said.
Kondo starts clients with clothing because cleaning out a closet produces dramatic results that motivate people to do more decluttering.
Vig says the impact on her business since the show started has been hit and miss. She’s added nearly 20,000 Instagram followers this month and is getting 50 percent more inquiries, but she has not been overwhelmed with appointments yet.
“I’m more likely to get calls after people have done the decluttering,” she said. “Families with kids that struggle to keep the kitchen organized want to know how to do it after they go grocery shopping.”
Louise Kurzeka, who owns Everything’s Together in St. Louis Park, said most people tackle house cleaning on their own without hiring a pro. But Kondo’s book and show lets people know that help is out there.
“Any visibility helps the industry,” Kurzeka said. “I haven’t heard of anyone losing business as a result of the book or the show.”
Kondo’s Shinto spirituality, including the belief that inanimate things have divine life, shines through in her writing and TV series. She suggests that declutterers touch every item and show gratitude for those that are discarded. Each episode of the Netflix show depicts Kondo “greeting” the messy home with a bow, treating it, the things inside and the owners with respect and affection.
Rebecca Toews of Bridging, a Twin Cities nonprofit that helps people out of homelessness, discovered a note attached to the bottom of a table that was donated last month. She wondered if the donor had been influenced by Kondo.
“For many years my family sat around this table and enjoyed sharing meals and spending time with one another,” the note said. “We hope that your family can do the same.”