Calgary thrift store sees Marie Kondo effect as donations roll in

Mission Thrift Store manager credits popular Netflix show with influx of donated goods

Laura Laanstra, manager at Mission Thrift Store in Calgary, said it's unusual to see so many donations at this time of year. BRODIE THOMAS / LIVEWIRE

A new Netflix show is sparking joy with the manager of a thrift shop in Calgary that relies on donations from the public.

On New Year’s Day Netflix released its show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and the show quickly caught the attention of people around the world. In it, Kondo – a tidying guru who’s penned a popular books on how to downsize and organize – works with people to help them get control of their closets and homes.

Laura Laanstra, manager at Mission Thrift Store in Calgary, said this has been their busiest January in years, and she credits the show with inspiring people to purge some of their belongings.

Just 15 days after the show’s release, the back room of her store is piled high with bags of clothes, toys, and household goods waiting to be sorted.

“It’s never this full in January, donation wise,” said Laanstra.

She said normally, January and February are their slowest months for donations. Having lots of new stock to put out on the shelf is keeping employees and volunteers busy, and is helping to drive sales.

Proceeds from Mission Thrift Store go to fund Bible League Canada, which aims to spread literacy and Christianity around the world, so the store operates with the help of over 90 volunteers who take shifts throughout the week.

Laanstra said the show has been a popular topic in the back room as volunteers sort.

“My assistant manager – she showed me a picture of her pantry and kitchen,” she said. “She totally redid the whole thing with baskets.”

Mission Thrift Store is getting all types of items. Clothing is the biggest category, but Laanstra noted that Kondo’s method has a section just for books, and their overflow room for books is starting to fill up.

Toys are also starting to pile up.

Toys are taking up much of the shelf space at Mission Thrift Store. BRODIE THOMAS / LIVEWIRE

Shelley Henczel, assistant manager with World Serve Thrift Store on 58 Ave. SW, said they haven’t seen a huge influx of donations yet, but they have heard people talking about Marie Kondo as they drop off their stuff.

“The ones that are volunteering here,” said Henczel. “They’re watching the show and finding it quite interesting.”

Like Laanstra, she’s hopeful the show will lead to more donations.

Laanstra said she’s not worried that the show will lead to people buying less, once they get their homes cleared out.

She thinks the store she manages will be able to sell items that help people live a more organized life – small boxes, compartments, shelves and more.

Kondo’s philosophy involves finding the items that ‘spark joy’ in your life, and Laanstra sees people excited with their thrift store finds almost every day.

“The look on their face – ‘I can’t believe I found this in a thrift store’ – that’s what’s she’s saying,” said Laanstra. “That’s sparking joy.”

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