Organization guru Marie Kondo’s Netflix show aired in January but Santa Monica’s thrift and consignment stores are still awash in items the show’s viewers have decluttered.
“Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” visits families around Los Angeles who are struggling to keep their homes free of clutter. Kondo asks them to sort through all of their possessions and evaluate which ones truly bring them joy. The rest are donated or trashed – and local viewers have been bringing their purged items to thrift stores and consignment stores.
“We’ve had a massive influx in the past couple of months,” said Rebecca Fraser, administrative coordinator at The Closet Trading Company, a consignment store with a location in Ocean Park. “I would say daily we have a couple of people coming in and mentioning Marie Kondo, and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon.”
Fraser said the quality of the clothing brought in to The Closet has changed as well because “Tidying Up” encourages people to be intentional in what they give away.
“The quality is amazing,” she said. “People are being so selective and bringing us great designer brands. They’re really editing what they’re bringing in, which lessens our job a little bit.”
Andrea Waters, who owns Great Labels, a consignment store in Wilmont, has noticed an uptick since Kondo released her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, in 2011.
“People started coming in with massive amounts of clothing. They wanted it all out of their closets,” Waters said. “Then it slowed down for a bit, and with the new show we’re back to getting truckloads of stuff, entire wardrobes.”
The trend does have one downside for consignment stores, she added.
“It puts the thought in people’s minds that maybe they don’t need to buy so much,” Waters said. “We certainly still need to sell.”
Widespread decluttering is also helping charities like the Assistance League of Santa Monica (ALSM) fund science camp, scholarships and dental work for local children with the revenues from its Mid-City thrift shop. The perennially popular store has been around since 1937, but the first few months of 2019 have been particularly busy, said Gina Peled, who sits on the nonprofit’s board of directors.
“People are coming in saying the show forced them to reevaluate,” Peled said.
Peled said she has noticed that more people are donating brand new or desirable items. The back room of ALSM is stocked with unopened Star Wars toys and slippers from last Christmas, vintage dinnerware still in its original packaging and designer clothes that the original owner outgrew.
“The show teaches you to take care of your things and to thank them before letting them go, so it makes sense that people are donating items that have been well taken care of,” she said.
Peled has her own philosophy for deciding what items to give away: if you haven’t worn or used an item in a year, you should probably donate it. But it’s equally important to be sure that you actually want to give it up, she said.
“People walk in with and then walk out because they’re not ready yet, and that’s okay,” she said. “We go through seasons as people – your life and needs change, and sometimes you return to things you lost interest in.”