IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The 'Marie Kondo effect'? Thrift stores nationwide see an uptick in donations

Is Marie Kondo's new show responsible for the rise in donations to second-hand stores?
/ Source: TODAY

The hit Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” is inspiring people to keep possessions that "spark joy," and get rid of the rest.

So, maybe it's no surprise that the show may also be sparking an increase in thrift store donations around the country.

Lately, it seems like everyone has been talking about the new series from Kondo, the Japanese organizing expert who first came on the scene with her 2014 best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

The show follows Kondo as she helps people organize and clean out their homes using her unique “KonMari” method. Her approach to getting rid of possessions is elegant in its simplicity: Hold each item in your hands. If it “sparks joy,” keep it. If not, get rid of it.

Kondo’s novel approach to decluttering has been going viral since the series dropped on Jan. 1, with many people sharing their own Kondo-inspired downsizing stories on social media. And thrift stores confirmed that donations have increased, even if they can't definitively link the uptick to Kondo.

Katie Miller of Moneta, Virginia, recently packed up six huge garbage bags of clothes to donate to her local Goodwill after watching the new Marie Kondo series.

Katie Miller filled several trash bags with Goodwill donations, inspired by watching "Tidying Up."
Katie Miller filled several trash bags with Goodwill donations, inspired by watching "Tidying Up."Courtesy of Katie Miller

“We started watching the show last week … and I thought, ‘Well, we’re really going to start donating things now,’” Miller, 29, told TODAY Home. “Because we have too much stuff.”

She followed Kondo’s method of dumping all her clothes onto her bed, then going through each item one by one to determine which items still “sparked joy.”

“Usually I’ll just pick things through my closet and just pull them out, but whenever you see everything on your bed laying there, you’re just like, 'What? How? How do I have this much stuff?'” she said.

Miller seriously downsized her shoe collection using the KonMari method.
Miller seriously downsized her shoe collection using the KonMari method.Courtesy of Katie Miller

Chef and author Gaby Dalkin, 32, also recently donated eight giant trash bags of clothes to her local Goodwill in West Los Angeles after watching the Marie Kondo series.

“I love the ‘joy’ part of (the Marie Kondo philosophy),” Dalkin told TODAY in an email. “If something doesn't give me joy, why do I still have it?”

Even TODAY’s own Natalie Morales was inspired to clean out her closet after watching “Tidying Up.”

“I had way too many white T-shirts!” she said in an Instagram video, and revealed in the caption that she will be donating items to the Salvation Army and Goodwill Southern California.

Thousands of people are posting about their Marie Kondo-inspired purges on social media and this may, at least partly, explain a recent surge in thrift store donations around the country.

Some second-hand stores have noticed a dramatic uptick in donations this month, even beyond the spike that often comes in January as people clean out their houses after the holidays.

Goodwill stores across Frederick and Carroll counties in Maryland have seen a 42 percent increase in donations since Jan. 1, according to Amy Lyons, a spokesperson for Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley.

“Out of our eight stores that we do have, our nine donation centers, all but two of them currently have seen quite an increase from last year around this time, year to date,” Lyons told TODAY. “Last year we stayed pretty flat throughout the year, we didn’t have much of an increase at all in our donations, so to suddenly see the … increase is pretty great.”

Could this spike be partly due to the "Marie Kondo effect"?

“It’s a little hard to tell,” Lyons said. “We don’t really survey individuals when they come to our donation centers.”

That said, Goodwill Industries of Monocacy in Frederick, Maryland, recently posted about “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Facebook and Lyons said the post has been generating buzz locally.

Donations have also skyrocketed at Goodwill stores in the Washington, D.C. area. They were up 66 percent in the first week of January, with one donation center seeing a 367 percent increase compared to the same week the previous year, Brendan Hurley, a spokesperson for Goodwill of Greater Washington, told TODAY in an email.

It’s not possible to directly attribute this huge increase to the Marie Kondo show, “though we cannot say it is unrelated either,” Hurley said.

At the very least, Goodwill of Greater Washington is tapping into the Marie Kondo craze, recently posting a photo on Instagram that encouraged locals to “put those … ‘Tidying Up’ tips into action, and start a pile of unwanted items to donate.”

Donations are also up at Boomerangs, a small chain of thrift stores in the Boston area. Boomerangs’ general manager, Tamarind Tidwell, thinks the Marie Kondo series has played a role in the increase.

“We’ve noticed this year that there’s just been a lot more activity in our receiving areas, so we’re getting more donations,” she told TODAY.

She also shared a recent Saturday donations report from a Boomerangs store manager, which said the day had been “donation heavy, with many folks remarking that new Netflix show ‘made them do it.’”

Tidwell added that when Kondo’s book came out a few years ago, she noticed a similar surge in donations. She says she’s grateful for anything that inspires people to give.

“It does feel busier, and we’re very grateful for it because that’s going to help us have a good supply of things for the winter,” she said. “So we’re benefitting tremendously.”

Kondo herself says she is thrilled by the incredible response to her series.

“I’ve learned through my decade of experience tidying that it is universal, so I had an idea that the show would impact people — but to this level is extraordinary,” she said in a statement to TODAY. "My goal in creating the show was for as many people as possible to be introduced to and try the KonMari Method — and it makes me so happy to see that’s exactly what’s happening. I’m filled with gratitude!"

Her method is certainly inspiring many people to downsize — but on the flip side, ironically, the Marie Kondo craze may be inspiring some others to stock up on second-hand finds.

After all, with all the donations flooding into Goodwill and similar stores, now may be the perfect time to go thrifting.

“We have ... seen many comments from Goodwill Southern California shoppers who are anticipating the influx of donations and are excited to shop in our stores to see what treasures were donated!” Marla Eby, a spokesperson for Goodwill Southern California, told TODAY in an email.

That said, in line with the Marie Kondo philosophy, maybe some thrift store shoppers will be pickier going forward about what they buy, asking themselves if each item sparks joy.

For Katie Miller, at least, the Marie Kondo series has sparked more of a desire to get rid of her possessions than a desire to score thrift-store deals.

She says that piling all her clothing on her bed was a powerful wake-up call that she had way too much stuff.

“You usually just go into your closet and just pull things out, so you’re not seeing it as a big, giant mountain,” she said. “What makes (the Marie Kondo method) so different (is) that when you are so overwhelmed by what you have ... you realize you don’t actually need that much.”