Local thrift stores are filling with joyless excess, thanks to Netflix and Marie Kondo

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (Official Trailer)

Tidy guru Marie Kondo comes to the rescue by helping people tackle the clutter that's holding them back.
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Tidy guru Marie Kondo comes to the rescue by helping people tackle the clutter that's holding them back.

First you binge-watched “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”

Then you piled all your clothes into the middle of your bed. You went through the pile and picked out the pieces that sparked joy; the other pieces you thanked for their service and set them free. You folded your few remaining possessions into teeny tiny rectangles and arranged them by color in a drawer.

Now, what do you do with all that joyless junk littering the floor?

If you’re like many people in the Triangle, you’re hauling it to nearest thrift store. Area thrift shops say they’ve seen a surge in donations since Jan. 1, when the Netflix series featuring Japanese organizing guru Kondo premiered, but many were unaware of why.

The 8-episode series touts Kondo’s KonMari method of organizing, which helps people simplify their lives by reducing their possessions (and their stress levels) through tidying up. Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” was released in the U.S. in 2014 and became an instant bestseller.

For the Netflix series, Kondo visits eight clients representing different types of people in different stages of life, and helps them declutter and organize — all without nagging, guilt or shame. Kondo gets them started and leaves them to complete the tasks on their own. It’s often painful, but the end result always seems to be worth it.

Does this shirt spark joy?

Viewers are inspired.

Michelle Masterson of Raleigh binged the show when it debuted and donated a bookcase, two filing cabinets and 10 bags of “stuff” to a local thrift store. She has two more bags sitting in her garage from more purging this weekend.

“But I had to adapt the KonMari method to my personality,” she said. “Because just the thought of piling all my books or clothes or papers in one place stressed me out.”

Masterson said even though asking themselves if items “sparked joy” felt ridiculous at first, she and her husband did it. “Does this 23-year-old stained crib mattress in the attic spark joy? I get it now. It forces us to think about what adds value to our lives and what we want to carry forward.”

It only took one episode of the Kondo show to inspire Liz Rock to clean out her Cary apartment. She had just cleaned out her closets three months ago but tackled them again last week using the KonMari methods.

“I got rid of half a dresser, half the closet and 75 percent of my shoes, plus bags of movies and books,” she said. “I didn’t have time to sit there and thank each thing as I was going through it, so I just hugged each bag and said ‘thank you so much.’

“I have 11 bags to take to Goodwill after work today — from an apartment of one person,” she said.

Diana Brown of Apex said she read Kondo’s book when it came out, but it was overwhelming.

“Seeing it in action on Netflix made it more obtainable,” she said.

Brown has gone through all of her clothing and portions of the house, but still has a little more to do. Even her 9-year-old daughter is into it. Brown thinks it’s something she’ll be able to keep going.

“Instead of thinking of it as the whole house and everything in it, this gives you a process and method,” she said. “It’ll make it easier to maintain the house in that way.”

Good stuff rolling into thrift stores

Typically, donations to nonprofit thrift stores are higher before Jan. 1, when people are getting rid of belongings in time for tax deductions. Receiving so many donations at the beginning of the year had surprised many of the local stores we contacted.

Danny Anderson Jr., the manager of the Raleigh Rescue Mission Thrift Ministry, which operates a store on Capital Boulevard, said the influx of items has been “almost an overkill” — but he’s grateful for the donations.

“We weren’t sure if it was just the time of year, or what,” Anderson said in a phone interview. “We couldn’t actually identify what the reason was ... I compared the numbers and out of all the Januaries we’ve been open, this is the best one. Our donations translate over into sales and inventory on the floor.

“It’s a good thing for us.”

David Martinez, who manages the ReTails Thrift Store in North Raleigh, said donations right now are “higher than normal,” but wasn’t familiar with the Netflix show and didn’t know if donations might be linked to that.

A spokesman for Goodwill Industries told the Washington Post that donations in the D.C. area in the first week up January were up 66 percent over the same period in 2017. Goodwill in the Triangle could not provide The N&O with any data on donations and, in response to our questions, released a statement that said, in part: “It’s too soon to determine the impact from the Marie Kondo show and whether it has generated donations, or to determine if there is any measurable data to correlate with the debut of the show and people donating to Goodwill.”

It’s also worth pointing out that this should be a great time for thrift store shoppers, with lots of new inventory pouring into stores. At Raleigh Rescue Mission’s store, the donated items hit the floor immediately.

“We get stuff out on the same day, sometimes within an hour or so,” Anderson said. “And 100 percent of what we make goes to the mission.”

Learn to tidy up, Marie Kondo-style

“Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” is streaming now on Netflix.

Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” is available in paperback wherever you buy books.

Scour Kondo’s website for more inspiration:

Where to donate your stuff

These are just a few of the thrift stores in Raleigh that would love to have the items that no longer spark joy in your life. If you Google, you’ll find more. Don’t forget you can donate your books to a local library, and you can try consignment stores if you’d like to make a little money. You could also join a freecycle network, where members post items they want to give away or need.

Remember, these stores cannot use clothing or other items that are soiled or damaged. The City of Raleigh has a recycling program for textiles.

Raleigh Rescue Mission Thrift Store, 4700 Capital Blvd., 919-878-7117

ReTails Thrift Shop, 2821 Spring Forest Rd, Raleigh, 919-872-0019

A-Z Thrift Shop, 1621 North Market Drive, Raleigh, 919-875-8901

Cause for Paws Thrift Shop, 1634 S Saunders St, Raleigh, 919-755-8906

Missions Thrift Store, 2721 E Millbrook Rd, Raleigh, 919-235-0873

Carolina Thrift, 2821 Brentwood Rd, Raleigh, 919-977-4722

Habitat Wake ReStore (home items only), 2420 N Raleigh Blvd., 919-833-6768

Goodwill, multiple locations across the Triangle: