You’ve Kondo’ed, Now What? These Apps (And Their Users) Are Cashing In On Stuff That Doesn’t Spark Joy

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Photo: Gary Gershoff / Getty Images; Design: Apartment Therapy)

If there’s one thing we can all hope for from the Marie Kondo “Tidying Up” craze, it’s finally saying goodbye to the concept of retail therapy—a notion coined by the Chicago Tribune in the late 1980s with the idea that we had started “measuring out our lives in shopping bags and nursing our psychic ills.” In her show and book, Kondo has us thank and then get rid of the clutter that is no longer serving us.

More than asking which items “spark joy” or helping us clear out our clutter, Marie Kondo’s process asks us to confront our consumerism in sometimes uncomfortable ways—like stacking every single item of clothing we own in a single pile on our bed.

In a way, KonMari is also a self-help manifesto for breaking the ties that bind us to our stuff. We own our things and our things no longer own us. And for the things we are ready to let go, we stop to have gratitude for the role they’ve played in our lives thus far before finding them new homes.

However, one side effect of the “Tidying Up” craze is that charitable organizations like Goodwill and other thrift stores are literally overwhelmed by donations. While it’s certainly been a banner year for charity shops across the country, it turns out that Americans are also listing and selling their things in record-breaking numbers on peer-to-peer platforms and apps like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Etsy, Poshmark, thredUP, Mercari, and more.

For example, thredUP saw “cleanout bag” requests increase 36 percent on January 1 (the day “Tidying Up” launched on Netflix) compared to the day prior. Bag requests increased by 70 percent by the end of that first week of 2019. To put that in perspective, that’s 80 percent more than thredUP’s average number of requests per day, and 55 percent more than the same period last year (January 1-7, 2018).

Mercari, the top online marketplace in Japan, saw a huge spike in U.S. usage of their app in the months since Americans embraced the KonMari Method. From 2018 to 2019, listings grew by 55 percent—most notably, in the Home category—and in a single month, from December 2018 to January 2019, listings grew by 32 percent.

eBay saw a surge of five million new listings in the second week of January, and experts at the online giant estimate the average U.S. household has 50+ unused items worth $3,100. eBay also saw a huge spike in searches for closet organizers (up 347 percent from 2018) and clothing racks (up 226 percent)—and searches for “Marie Kondo” grew tenfold month-over-month, with sales for her books up 1,500 percent.

Less clutter and extra cash? Now that sparks joy.