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Netflix has caused a flood of second-hand clothing

Ethan Wolff-Mann
Senior Writer

The Marie Kondo effect is real.

The decluttering guru and her new Netflix show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” which debuted on Jan. 1, has galvanized scores of people to comb through their belongings, down to their last pair of gym socks, and get rid of everything that doesn’t “spark joy.”

So where does all this joyless stuff go? Turns out, online resellers, thrift stores and consignment shops have become the beneficiaries of this new wave of tidying up.

“We tend to see an uptick in donations at this time of year, but ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ likely could be influencing people to give even more,” Dalita Lovett at The Salvation Army said. She said that nationally the organization has seen an 18% increase in scheduled pickups for donated goods in the first two weeks of the year.

Poshmark, an e-commerce site that lets people buy and sell fashionable clothing, told Yahoo Finance it has seen a 64% increase in listings in the first week of January 2019 compared to January 2018.

“Marie Kondo’s Netflix show has definitely impacted a lot of people and brands, including Poshmark,” a spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

Buffalo Exchange, another second-hand fashion company with stores around the country, said it had to put out many extra racks at locations to accommodate all the new clothing coming in. Usually, March and June are the big spring cleaning times.

“We’ve definitely seen a lot of new faces coming in to sell their closet cleanouts and many of our sellers have been specifically mentioning Marie Kondo,” the company said.

ThredUP has also seen an effect as well. Speaking on Yahoo Finance’s YFi AM program, CEO James Reinhart said this is the second time they’ve seen this, but that this scale was new.

“We saw it actually two years ago with the publication of [Kondo’s] book, but because Netflix has such distribution these days, everyone has gotten on the bandwagon so all sites [like ours] are benefiting,” he said. “Not sure the [growth] is sustainable but I think she's educating a new group of people how to be smarter.”

ThredUP also took a survey of 1,000 customers and found 60% said the Netflix show inspired them to action.

In San Francisco, the show’s influence has flooded thrift stores with donations, leading some to put limits on what they will accept.

Not everyone is 100% sure of the Kondo effect. Online luxury-brand reseller The Real Real has seen “strong growth” in consignment in January, but “nothing outside of expectations,” a spokesperson said.

Goodwill Industries International said it didn’t have data supporting any correlation or causation, mainly because it’s a network of 161 independent organizations each with its own separate board. But it is keeping an eye to see if there is a Kondo effect, a spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

While a Kondo effect is being felt across the second-hand markets, it appears to be purely on the supply side. The demand side — people buying used clothing or thrifting — it seems, has not suffered, these companies told Yahoo Finance. The same seems to be the case across retail in general, as the sector saw a gain of 15,000 new jobs in January.

In other words, people might be getting rid of more of their stuff, but they don’t seem to be buying any less of it, which is auspicious for retail.

There are, however, some areas that could experience growth thanks to the Kondo-ing, besides second-hand shops. Moving, storage, junk collection companies, and Kondo-ing itself, which is its own little industry of professional tidyers, all stand to benefit.

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Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on consumer issues, personal finance, retail, airlines, and more. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.

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