How Marie Kondo's 'Tidying Up' is sparking joy for suburban resale shops
Television has been influencing fashion for decades.
The sitcom "Friends" fueled a generation of women who sported the "Rachel" hairdo for a few years. Joan Collins on "Dynasty" convinced women that shoulder pads were a good look. And "Miami Vice" had men wearing linen suits with pastel T-shirts while trying to perfect the three-day stubble.
In the Netflix reality TV series, "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo," the Japanese declutter guru inspires people to clean out their closets by keeping only those items that "spark joy." That's good news for resale shops.
"We have seen an uptick. I'm sure that's contributing," says Karen Kapitzky, owner of the Clothes Mentor women's store in Arlington Heights, who gives credit to the show. "I know it made me clean my closet. I went though my closet and got rid of things that didn't give me joy."
Unlike consignment stores or donation outlets, the Clothes Mentor pays cash for high-end items for women.
Anna Schimer of Crystal Lake plops several bags of clothes and a pair of never-worn shoes on the counter. Kapitzky buys the shoes and a few other items at about a third of the price she'll resell them for, which is a third of what they sell for new in retail stores. Schimer says she'll donate the clothes rejected by Kapitzky to a charity that isn't so picky. She uses the store credit Kapitzky gives her to buy some jewelry and a Free People designer jacket, priced at $28, compared to $200 in retail stores.
"I have two daughters," Schimer says, noting that her 26-year-old and her 23-year-old love the items she brings home from the Clothes Mentor. "I try to spend wisely. I don't tell them where I got it."
Kapitzky says she and her staff of buyers are looking for high-end brands no more than two years old.
"Some people bring in 1980 Calvin Klein jeans," Kapitzky says. She has a wall of designer bags, with one Louis Vuitton tote selling for $1,050, which is $300 cheaper than retail. But a small Coach coin purse sells for $8.
The suburbs boast many affluent homes where people can feel joy about cutting back.
"Purging is one of my favorite things to do," says a customer who sells her best items for a $51.88 credit that allows her to buy a barely used black sweater sold by Loft. "It just feels good to trim the fat."
The Netflix show also influences people who donate clothes to charities.
"My customers were the original ones to tell me about that show," says Annie Farrell, the executive director and force behind Annie's Resale for the World, a Rolling Meadows not-for-profit resale shop that donates all the profits to seven Christian organizations that serve the poor in Chicago and in developing countries. "We've had two seminars in our store with professional declutterers, and we're going to do it again.
"Americans just have a lot of stuff. I tell people just to start with one drawer."
As manager of the WINGS Resale Shop in Schaumburg, Charlie Williams says he can't be certain the TV show has sparked donations, "but we have noticed when somebody is donating, they are donating a lot more stuff."
He suspects donations to WINGS, which uses proceeds from resale shops in Schaumburg, Arlington Heights and Niles to fund services for families fleeing domestic violence, aren't necessarily inspired by a desire to clean closets. "The people who donate to us," Williams says, "donate from their hearts."