The 'Marie Kondo effect' hits Chattanooga as thrift shops see increase in donations

The 'Marie Kondo effect' hits Chattanooga as thrift shops see increase in donations

January 31st, 2019 by Allison Shirk Collins in Business Around the Region

Amanda Claiborne prices chairs in the sorting room at the Chambliss Center's Dayton Boulevard thrift store on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, in Red Bank, Tenn. Area thrift stores have seen an influx of donations as the popular Netflix series "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" encourages viewers to declutter their lives.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

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Chattanooga has been KonMari'd.

That's the word from some local donation centers and thrift stores where an influx of donations started around the same time organizational guru Marie Kondo's new Netflix series, "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" was released Jan. 1.

The petite, Japanese woman takes no small stance when it comes to throwing out the items that no longer "spark joy." She gets right down to business on her show and in her New York Times best-selling book, telling young families, retired couples and others that their life will be more serene once they declutter their home and use the "KonMari" method to free their mind and space of the nonsense.

The method is all about "choosing joy," she says, and it encourages tidying not by location but by five categories, including clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous and sentimental items. When throwing away or donating things, Kondo emphasizes that people should thank them for their service before letting them go.

It might sound a little much for some, but apparently the show and her widespread fame has inspired Chattanoogans to rid themselves of things that no longer spark joy, and donation centers in the area are reaping the benefits. In fact, donation centers across the country are noticing a substantial increase in donations from California to south Florida and as close as Knoxville, according to various news outlets.

On Thursday afternoon, Amanda Claiborne dusted off a bookshelf that had been dropped off earlier this week at the Chambliss Center for Children's thrift store in Red Bank.

"OK, next thing I've gotta do is figure out where I'm going to put it before I go anywhere with it," she said when she was finished.

Claiborne is the manager of the nonprofit's store off Dayton Boulevard, and the back room had shelves and tables full of rare and strange finds, like Louis Vuitton shoes sitting near an egg incubator. She said a lot of donations come in on the weekends, and normally by Thursday the next week they are running low.

Not the case this month though thanks to Kondo. People keep dropping off, all saying different versions of the same thing, "We're just tidying up," she said.

"We hear it about 100 times a day," Claiborne joked.

Last week, they were getting about 30-40 donations a day. To help sell the excess inventory, both Chambliss thrift stores are running specials ahead of Valentines Day for 50% of jewelry and 20 percent of items that are red and pink in color.

Habitat for Humanity ReStores in Chattanooga and Ooltewah have also seen an uptick in donations, said district manager Glenn Golden. According to Golden, they've decided to hire a new driver to fulfill the extra needs. While they've seen a "spike" in donations as of late, Golden said he hasn't specifically heard people attribute it to Kondo, and they've noticed donations are higher than usual for a few months now.

Seattle-based hip hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' hit song, "Thrift Shop" released in 2012 had a similar effect, said Jim Stailey, vice president of operations for Goodwill Chattanooga. Stailey was working for Goodwill in Spokane, Washington at the time, and some Goodwills in California actually started using the song as part of an ad campaign.

In the song, Macklemore sings — among other things — that he only has $20 in his pocket, so he's going to "pop some tags" at the local thrift store.

Stailey said donations are up about 6 percent this month, so he feels that it's "highly likely" people have been more encouraged to let go of their clutter and give to the well-known nonprofit because of the show.

"I can tell you that anytime you have a national figure saying you have too much stuff, there is absolutely going to be a positive impact," Stailey said.

Contact staff writer Allison Shirk Collins at ashirk@timesfreepress.com, @AllisonSCollins or 423-757-6651.

More Info

› Goodwill Chattanooga serves southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia. Donate clothing, housewares, furniture and other items.


› Chambliss Center for Children thrift stores accept almost anything that is in good condition, including clothing, household items, large and small appliances, outdoor items, furniture, medical equipment, books, videos and more.
  • Locations: 3723 Brainerd Road and 1936 Dayton Boulevard, Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. t0 6 p.m.

› Salvation Army Family Store accepts clothing, shoes, electronics, furniture, appliances and other household items.
  • Location: 4104 Ringgold Road, Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Sundays.

› Habitat for Humanity ReStores accepts new and gently used appliances, furniture, building materials and household goods. Only the Ooltewah store accepts clothing.
  • Locations: 1201 E. Main St., Chattanoooga, Tenn. and 9408 Apison Pike Suite 138, Ooltewah, Tenn.
  • Hours: Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed on Sundays.

› Bethel Thrift Store:
  • Location: 5135 Hixson Pike, Hixson, Tenn.
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed on Sundays.