‘Tidying Up’ Gives A Hand Up: Marie Kondo Inspires Declutter Movement; Goodwill Benefits

A Murfreesboro woman says she recently was inspired to declutter her home by organization guru Marie Kondo, becoming part of a nationwide movement that is benefiting nonprofit organizations such as Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee.

Elizabeth Scott-Francis is a 26-year-old doctoral student who also works full-time at Vanderbilt University. She says she read Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” a few years ago. When she learned in early January that Netflix had launched a series called “Tidying Up” featuring the author, she watched all eight episodes in a single day.

“I was really excited to see the show,” Scott-Francis says.  “I immediately went through all my things and followed her decluttering process, as far as considering whether something ‘sparks joy.’ We did a huge purge.”

In the end, Scott-Francis and her husband identified two car trunk-loads — roughly 15 large garbage bags full — of clothing and other items that were still useful but which they no longer wanted to keep. They decided to donate the items to their local Goodwill store at 2955 S. Church St. in Murfreesboro.

“I really appreciate Goodwill’s mission and always have,” Scott-Francis explains, referring to Goodwill’s efforts as a nonprofit to change lives through education, training and employment, particularly for those with disabilities and other barriers.

“The fact that they create jobs for individuals is really important to me,” she adds. “I moved to Tennessee three years ago, and Goodwill is how I furnished my first apartment and my home. One thing I really like is that the company’s mission and values remain true no matter where you are, which is something that keeps me coming back.”

Scott-Francis says she shops at her nearest Goodwill at least once a week, because she and her husband are passionate about budgeting and always looking for ways to save money. Buying thrifted clothing and home goods helps her meet her financial goals.

She recently began to notice not-so-subtle changes in the available merchandise.

“About a week after I made my big donation, I started to realize other people were probably doing the same thing, and I became more intentional about looking for items,” she says. “I was seeing more and more trendy things, high-quality things and new things with the tags still on them. The inventory was turning over so quickly, I started going twice a week.”

Scott-Francis may be onto something.

During January — typically a slow period for donations, as Kondo’s “Tidying Up” series went viral, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee registered a more than 10 percent increase in donations compared to average recent years. Those donations were quickly processed, and store quality items moved onto the racks and shelves in Goodwill’s stores.

“While we cannot definitively attribute this increase to the Marie Kondo effect, many of our donors are telling us they have been inspired by her program to declutter,” says Goodwill’s Director of Donation Acquisitions Danny Rhodes. “Whatever the reason, we are thankful so many people are choosing to support Goodwill and help us provide much-needed services to the community.”

Scott-Francis says her best Goodwill purchase during January was a pair of Michael Kors dress shoes that were virtually brand new. They typically retail for $70-$80. Scott-Francis paid $7.99.

“I feel certain that was a result of the Marie Kondo special, because I’d never seen anything like that in a thrift store before,” she says.

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