The "tidying up" philosophy of professional organizer Marie Kondo has reached fever pitch now that the best-selling author has a show on Netflix. The petite expert comes to people's homes and teaches them to go through a multi-step process of decluttering (the KonMari method
). Step one is tackling clothes, mercilessly winnowing down your wardrobe to only articles that spark joy.
But now that "Americans everywhere are tossing out their duds," as Meredith Fineman
put it, is that good or bad for online sellers?
To take a step back, it's fascinating to see the reaction to Kondo's teachings, especially the emotional and philosophical pushback, and the judgements about the excesses of "privileged" consumers.
"At its heart, the KonMari method is a quest for purity. To Kondo, living your life surrounded by unnecessary items is "undisciplined," while a well-tidied house filled with only the barest essentials is the ultimate sign of personal fulfillment," wrote Arielle Bernstein in the Atlantic
But Bernstein says that while Kondo's guide to tidying up promises joy in a minimalist life, "in order to feel comfortable throwing out all your old socks and handbags, you have to feel pretty confident that you can easily get new ones. Embracing a minimalist lifestyle is an act of trust," one that people like Bernstein's parents and grandparents didn't have due to their circumstances.
Book critic Ron Charles doesn't take kindly to Kondo's approach to books. "Keep your tidy, spark-joy hands off my book piles, Marie Kondo," he warned in this weekend's column in the Washington Post
. "Suddenly people have noticed the dark side of Kondo's war on stuff: She hates books," he wrote.
"We don't keep books because we know "what kind of information is important to us at this moment,"" Charles wrote. "We keep them because we don't know."
Online sellers - especially those operating from home - may long for a system that can tame their cluttered storage and office space. At first glance, KonMarie wouldn't work for inventory, but sellers who use Amazon's FBA fulfillment service might relate to Kondo better than most. That's because Amazon began charging FBA long-term storage fees, meaning slow-moving inventory got more expensive. Note that in some categories you might call that "clutter," but certain items like rare books or vintage goods are slow-moving for a reason.
At some point, it may be better to discount certain stock in order to free up room for faster-moving more profitable inventory. Can you take a more mindful (some would say brutal) approach to your business using Marie Kondo's methods?
And to get back to the original question we raised, is Kondo fever resulting in better pickings at thrift shops and second-hand stores, providing an opportunity for resellers? Or will consumers decide they don't need to buy more stuff, which would be bad for retail?