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Thrift Stores Say They're Swamped With Donations After 'Tidying Up with Marie Kondo'


Around the country, thrift stores are being swamped with sweaters, shoes, coats, books.

BRIAN EDWARDS: Thousands and hundreds of thousands of donations. It's huge. We can hardly keep up with it.

CORNISH: That's Brian Edwards. He's from Gulfstream Goodwill in south Florida speaking to his local station, WPTV. In Indianapolis, Braden Pothier of Wheeler Mission Thrift Store told Fox 59 News he's seeing the same thing.

BRADEN POTHIER: We've noticed a drastic increase in donations just over the past three or four weeks now.

RACHEL SYME: It looked like Fiddler on the Roof, you know, just like moving from one village to another. I mean, everybody had a giant Ikea bag full of clothes or five suitcases.

CORNISH: That's New Yorker magazine columnist Rachel Syme describing the scene she witnessed at a used clothing store in Brooklyn.

SYME: And I went down the line of people and just asked them, are you here because of the show? Nine out of 10 of them were. They had seen the show and immediately felt moved to get rid of their belongings.

CORNISH: The show she's referring to is the Netflix series "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo" which debuted on New Year's Day.


MARIE KONDO: Hello? I'm Marie Kondo. (Speaking Japanese).

CORNISH: Kondo is the Japanese organizing expert whose bestselling book "The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up" has sparked a nationwide decluttering frenzy. Her key advice - you should survey all your belongings and ask yourself if each thing sparks joy. If yes, keep it. If no, let it go.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Spark joy - it's not as easy as I thought it was going to be.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: We're on board. We want to change. I just want it to be strong enough to change me.

CORNISH: In the show, Kondo travels around helping people go through the wrenching but ultimately liberating process of getting rid of stuff. Now, there's no proof that this is the main reason for the surge in donations at thrift stores, but Rachel Syme of The New Yorker points to the show's auspicious timing.

SYME: Releasing it right on New Year's Day was a genius move by Netflix because everybody is already in this kind of self-improvement zone, and they want to start the year with a blank sheet of paper, a new leaf, an empty bookshelf. You know, everybody wants that sort of blank canvas start to the new year, and I think that cleaning out your closet is a huge signifier of that. It's kind of an unburdening.

CORNISH: Syme says she thinks the connection Kondo makes between decluttering and happiness has inspired the viewer to take action.

SYME: I guess a lot of things weren't making people happy, but I will say if getting a new leather jacket makes you happy, now is a really good time to go to a thrift store and find one. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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