Tidying trend sparks donations, consignment sales

January 28, 2019

Penny Bracken understands getting rid of things can be difficult.

“It’s emotional — people can get attached to their things,” said Bracken, owner of Kismet Consignment.

For customer consigners who do feel attached to their belongings, Bracken reassures them by referring to her store as an “adoption agency.”

“We’re here to find things new homes,” she said. “For people who just want to cut to the bone, we’re here for them, too.”

Bracken has been in business for more than 16 years. So far this year, she has seen an upswing in people interested in paring down.

“People are bringing in things like crazy,” she said.

Bracken said the trend could be in part due to a new Netflix series “Tidying Up” based on Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

In her book, first published in Japan in 2011 and translated to English in 2014, Kondo espouses the joy of an uncluttered life. She outlines techniques for paring down and offers advice for the more sentimental unwilling to let things go.

Kondo’s process is simple: Hold every item you own; if it sparks joy, keep it. If not, thank the item for its service and get rid of it.

“Whatever can compel people to process things out of their lives is music to my ears,” Bracken said, adding that it appears tidying is going mainstream.

“I’m hoping the trend will keep trickling down to us,” she said.

Kismet includes three storefronts — a main store, a women’s fashion store and a furniture store. On average, the stores pick up a new consignment account about once a day. Before noon Thursday, three people had started accounts between the furniture store and the fashion store.

Area Goodwill stores also report seeing an uptick in donations. Donations are up over last January and up overall during a time of year when donations usually dip, according to Brent Babcock, chief sales and marketing officer for Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota.

Babcock didn’t attribute the uptick to any singular trend, but said the donations are welcome and help the organization employ people with disabilities.

Bracken said consigning can help ease people into letting things go.

“Every one of those pieces — it might sound hokey — it has an energy to it,” she said, “Too much becomes suffocating.”

The hardest part for anyone is taking that first step.

“Once you get over that hurdle, it becomes freeing,” Bracken said.

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