January is always a busy month for consignment stores as homeowners, hoarders and everyone in between clear their closets for the new year. At Finders Keepers Fashions in Avondale Estates, Jan. 26 was the deadline for winter drop-offs. Luckily, owner Bonnie Kallenberg staffed two locations a little more than usual for the yearly rush.

“We had well over 100 drop-offs and not only was it 100 drop-offs, it was 100 huge drop-offs,” Kallenberg said. Consignors came in dragging bags full of clothing and accessories for “drop and runs,” which means that even if the store can’t sell it in 60 days, the consignors don’t want it back.

Toqullia Porter, with her daughter Makayla, 11, drops off items to sell on consignment at Finders Keepers Boutique in Decatur this week. It’s been a busy time at consignment stores, thanks to the usual start-of-the-year closet cleaning as well as Japanese organizing pro Marie Kondo’s new Netflix series, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.” HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Kallenberg wasn’t sure what prompted the bigger-than-usual drops until she listened closely to the chatter. Almost everyone, it seemed, was speaking the same language.

“People let go of things that did not spark joy,” Kallenberg said, using the words made famous by Marie Kondo, the 34-year-old Japanese organizing consultant and author whose new Netflix series has led to a resurgence of KonMari mania.

With the series debut on Jan. 1, Kondo is experiencing a second run of fame that began five years ago, with the U.S. release of her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” The book lived on the New York Times best-seller list as Kondo built her KonMari lifestyle brand, but the Netflix series “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” has taken her message even deeper into the masses. The result is an onslaught of clothing, home goods and other items delivered with love to consignment and thrift stores across the country as more Americans try to live that KonMari life.

Marie Kondo is a 34-year-old Japanese writer and television personality. She gained worldwide fame for her focus on decluttering personal possessions. Her book and Netflix series focus on helping people keep only items that "spark joy." She is married with two children.

Kondo speaks little English (on the Netflix series, she travels with a translator and some of her advice is subtitled), but that hasn’t stopped Americans from adopting her philosophy and declaring themselves Konverts to a method that some organizing pros have criticized as both draconian and the same thing they have been doing for decades. In 2016, Kondo began certifying consultants in her tidying methods. Today, there are more than 100 certified KonMari consultants in the U.S. though none are based in Georgia.

The KonMari mystique isn’t just about discarding stuff, it is also the manner in which that work is done. Kondo wants us to lovingly interact with our mess — touching and talking to items as we decide if they make us happy and setting them free when they don’t. Organizing, she says, should be done by category and in a specific order (clothing, books, etc.) rather than room by room. What we keep should be sorted and folded in a way that is visible and accessible.

Those are strategies that Dr. Darria Gillespie employs in her own home. As an emergency room doctor based in Atlanta, everything in her life has to be timesaving, she said. Unorganized stuff only takes up valuable brain space, and the KonMari Method is a great starting point to free your mind.

“The more you organize your house, whether it is clothes, food or books, the less you have to remember,” said Gillespie, author of “Mom Hacks: 100+ Science-Backed Shortcuts to Reclaim Your Body, Raise Awesome Kids, and Be Unstoppable.”

The Netflix series “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” has brought a resurgence of KonMari mania. Dr. Darria Gillespie has expanded on Kondo’s methods to clean up her fridge. In her new book, “Mom Hacks: 100+ Science-Backed Shortcuts to Reclaim Your Body, Raise Awesome Kids and Be Unstoppable,” she gives women tips on how to regain time and brain space. CONTRIBUTED BY DR. DARRIA GILLESPIE
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

While her refrigerator isn’t picture-perfect, Gillespie has posted images of her very visible vegetables — chopped, stored and ready to eat. “Once you have done those things, you have opened up brain space, and you can use that for creativity, moments of quiet and being more intentional about your goals,” she said.

Kallenberg has seen only one episode of Kondo’s Netflix series, but she was already a KonMari fan, having gifted the book to several family members. “There are so many truths to it and I think it really helps people,” said Kallenberg. “I have always felt like we need to put things back into the universe for someone else to find and love.”

In her stores, she has seen the Kondo effect take hold not just among consignors but among shoppers as well. “They are thinking a little more before they are buying. If you don’t love it, why are you buying it?” Kallenberg said.

Viewers of “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” know the transformative power of an organized home. Not an episode goes by without tears shed and revelations uncovered about relationships with people and stuff. Kondo makes appearances over a month or so offering encouraging lessons and a kind smile. As families struggle to let go of items with sentimental and monetary value, Kondo makes it clear that she is not there to do the work for them.

February 19, 2019 Decatur - Monique Abreu, store manager, shows off some of the high-end merchandise at Finders Keepers Consignment Stores in Decatur on Tuesday, February 19, 2019. Following the success of her best-selling 2014 book, Japanese organizing pro Marie Kondo has brought her KonMari method to the masses with a Netflix series and consultant training. The impact of her methods can be seen locally in massive drops to consignment stores and individuals adopting a KonMari approach to other areas of life. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Under the KonMari Method, where the main criteria for keeping something is the joy it brings, plenty of worthy goods are being sent out of the house. Victoria and Mark Schutter, owners of Consignment Furniture Depot in Chamblee, have noticed their younger clients casting away traditional furniture inherited from their parents that does not spark joy. A generation obsessed with minimalist style has no use for china cabinets and other traditional furnishings that once commanded top dollar in their store. Those items are now mostly fodder for the set designers of local filming productions, Mark Schutter said.

At Queenie’s Consignment in Decatur, the KonMari madness has worked in favor of shoppers seeking high-end accessories. If that David Yurman jewelry isn’t sparking joy, it still has to go, and KonMari-d women are giving it up, said owner Vickie Bracewell. On a recent afternoon, one consignor brought in a beautiful silk Chanel scarf to consign. “She said it wasn’t bringing her joy,” Bracewell said. The scarf sold the same day for $250 to someone who was surely joyful to get it for hundreds of dollars less than retail.

February 19, 2019 Decatur - Example of some of the high-end merchandise, Louis Vuitton bag, at Finders Keepers Consignment Stores in Decatur on Tuesday, February 19, 2019. Following the success of her best-selling 2014 book, Japanese organizing pro Marie Kondo has brought her KonMari method to the masses with a Netflix series and consultant training. The impact of her methods can be seen locally in massive drops to consignment stores and individuals adopting a KonMari approach to other areas of life. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Bracewell and her staff are usually able to process drop-offs the same day, but in recent weeks, they have been at least a day behind. They have had to work extra hours to sort through the additional inventory coming into the store. Not only are core consignors bringing in more and higher-quality items, there are more new consignors in February. The increase is unique in that at least half if not more of the new customers are the result of Kondo’s Netflix show, Bracewell said.

On a near-daily basis, someone mentions Marie Kondo or says the words “sparking joy.” Bracewell got so used to hearing the phrase, she began using a version of it herself — telling customers, “If it doesn’t bring you joy, bring it to Queenie’s.”

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