When a woman dragged 18 bags of clothes into Philly AIDS Thrift for donation last week, assistant manager Adam Proctor had to ask: Where’d all this come from?
She replied: Have you heard about that Netflix show?
Of course he had. She was the third person to bring it up that day.
The woman was referring to Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, a new show available on the streaming service in which the acclaimed author, whose 2014 book about organizing inspired readers to purge, goes into people’s homes and helps them ditch their unnecessary junk in favor of a more minimalist lifestyle. Since the Netflix show’s release on Jan. 1, the host’s name has become a verb as people are “Marie Kondo-ing” their homes, posting about it on the internet, and letting go of half their possessions.
All this has been a boon for thrift stores and consignment shops across the country this month as people are dropping off bags of their clothing and gabbing about how they’ve been converted into Kondo disciples.
“Every third customer is bringing attention to that Netflix show,” said Proctor, who may have been slightly exaggerating.
Nonetheless, Philly AIDS Thrift cofounder Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou confirmed it: The organization had an unusually busy month. She said the nonprofit at 710 S. Fifth St. — which benefits organizations fighting HIV/AIDS — typically has a busy December as people donate at the end of the year for the tax break. But that business has lingered through January.
Same goes for several other local thrift stores and consignment shops. Jess Shoffner, who manages Circle Thrift at 2233 Frankford Ave. in Fishtown, said she’s sure the Netflix series has made a big difference as the shop is seeing “way more” donations than it typically does at this time of year.
She said the impact of the show is hard to quantify, but said Circle Thrift typically takes what it can’t sell in the store and sells it to a salvage company. Over the last several weeks, those hauls have been larger. And donors keep bringing up the Kondo effect.
“People keep saying, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m doing the spark joy thing,'” she said, “and I’m like ‘Awesome, keep bringing your stuff to us.’ We love it.”
Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, employs a Japanese decluttering method that asks people to get rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy,” leading organized people and hoarders alike to purge their unwanted items en masse. The book’s cult following has only grown since the Netflix show turned Kondo from well-liked author into internet sensation.
Mike Shaffer, a store manager at Buffalo Exchange, a chain consignment shop with a location at 1520 Chestnut St. in Center City, said that this month people are coming in and “regularly” telling the store’s buyers that they got tips from the Netflix show, hence all the clothes.
Likewise for Greene Street, a chain consignment shop based on the Main Line that has 10 locations throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The stores specialize in mid- to high-end labels, selling everything from Gap to Gucci.
Kelly Potter, the chain’s chief projects officer, said Greene Street experienced something of a “double whammy” this month after telling its list of return sellers that Sunday would be their final day accepting winter clothes before the spring clothing season begins. So sellers rushed in over the last couple weeks to sell off their winter gear and, Potter said, “I’m sure plenty of people watched that show and it made them come in, as well.”
She said that typically around this time of year, just after the holidays, things get a bit slower and management tells the merchandising department, which handles incoming garments, to take a couple days off. This year?