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Kondo Developments


As I walk into my neighborhood Goodwill, I’m both excited and overwhelmed by the sea of fabrics and furniture: Racks upon racks of household goods await the chance for a second life. The musky scent of mothballs is the fragrance of opportunity.

Since Netflix released the series  Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, thrift and secondhand retailers nationwide have experienced a large influx of donations. The minimalist home-improvement show, based on the best-selling 2014 book  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, stars the book’s author, Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant who has built a movement through her philosophy to rid one’s life of material possessions that don’t “spark joy.”

A thrift store environment — the haphazard assortment, the sheer amount of stuff — is antithetical to her “KonMari” method, yet secondhand stores (and their customers) are reaping the benefits. A used bookstore in Chicago posted on Facebook, “Because Marie Kondo’s TV show on cleaning has begun running on Netflix, we took in a month’s worth of books in 2 days.” On  All Things ConsideredNew Yorker columnist Rachel Syme described a scene at a used clothing store in Brooklyn: “Everybody had a giant Ikea bag full of clothes or five suitcases (...) 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.” (Although the  Wall Street Journal recently reported that some secondhand stores are receiving a lot of unsellable junk.)

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“We certainly hear a lot of customers and donors talking about it,” Jennifer Ramieh, director of philanthropy for Goodwill of Southern Nevada, told me. “While it (the KonMari effect) isn’t an easy thing to measure, we certainly continue to see generosity from the community through donations that support our mission.” Though it may not be solely attributed to the Kondo effect, Ramieh says she has noticed a more mindful attitude about donating rather than trashing.

Which means there has never been a better time to shop secondhand. After all, the benefits of thrifting and donating locally are certain; thrifting is affordable, sustainable, and benefits the community, from reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills to creating career opportunities for Southern Nevadans.

Though it’s difficult to quantify any real measurement of the Netflix show’s impact on the thrift shops here, I can say firsthand that the shops I’ve hit from Summerlin to the Arts District haven’t disappointed. Some of my finds included a pearly, off-white Ann Taylor blouse, nearly unworn Karl Lagerfeld nude heels, blush-colored cigarette pants, and a silk mustard button-up patterned with safari animals, the shoulder pads of which I cut out as toys for my cat — joy to go around!

If taken too literally, eliminating all that does not “spark joy” might sound like a dystopian novel waiting to happen (see: a tweet describing a future in which Kondo leads a public disposal of men who do not spark joy). But, in contrast to other minimalist philosophies, organizing your life based on what brings you joy — rather than pure practicality — is a nice sentiment. The child’s size Weird Al Yankovic T-shirt may not have been my most sensible purchase, but the pure glee I feel when looking into Al’s raving eyes is undeniable. What is joy, really, if not that?