Charity shops around Dublin have reported an increase in donations since the reality television series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo debuted on Netflix at the beginning of the year.
The reality show follows Japanese decluttering evangelist Marie Kondo as she visits ordinary people and teaches them how to organise their homes and restore order to their closets, cupboards and cabinets in the process.
Having binged the series and picked up tips on how to determine whether an object sparks joy, it seems many Irish viewers embarked on an early spring clean and set about getting rid of unwanted tat with charity shops emerging as the greatest beneficiaries.
While once there was a slight snobbery attached to shopping in charity shops, it has become normalised and even a little trendy
"There are definitely people coming into our shops who are saying they saw Marie Kondo and decided to have a clearout," says Paul Hughes of the Irish Charity Shops Association. "Generally things were good in January – more so than in previous Januarys – so that would be a good indication."
On a busy Wednesday morning, people are busy perusing the rails in Age Action Dún Laoghaire. Store manager Rachel Jackson says they have received more donations from people off the back of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
“Last week we actually had two ladies who came in with donations and they did say, ‘We have been watching that Netflix show and we decided to declutter our home,’ and they dropped in some lovely bits and pieces,” she says. “They mentioned it to me and I thought, ‘That’s really interesting.’ So it is having an impact.”
Just a few weeks ago, Ryan Tubridy dropped in a selection of books.
“Straight away a customer was like, ‘What books is Ryan reading?’” she laughs.
While the shop stocks everything from clothing to bric-a-brac, it is best known for its furniture and homeware.
“Our furniture is fantastic and it sells so well,” says Jackson, noting that the idea of buying homewares from a charity or secondhand shop is particularly attractive to younger people.
“We have a lot of apartments around so you get a lot of younger people who are only after moving into their first apartment or they’re after relocating to Dún Laoghaire and they love coming in to buy furniture and getting really nice pieces at a good price,” she says.
“Everyone is into the upcycling now so they might buy a piece and then come back to me a few weeks later and they’ve painted it bright green to fit in with their decor or their style.”
While once there was a slight snobbery attached to shopping in charity shops, it has become normalised and even a little trendy to the point that people will happily boast about their purchases.
"They are proud to put it on Facebook or Instagram and say, 'I bought this in a charity store' or 'Look at the find I got.'"
“You can buy something in a department store and they’re dime a dozen whereas you buy in our stores and you’re getting something unusual and unique. Plus you’re giving back to charity so it’s feel-good factor all round.”
A few doors up, Patrick Mangan is holding the fort in Patrick’s Curiosity Shop, a not-for-profit secondhand shop that donates all profits to local charities and good causes. The shop relies on donations and it, too, has had a positive start to the year.
“We have had a phenomenal few weeks of donations,” says Mangan. “Not just clothes or bric-a-brac, but lots of good furniture, nice lamps, nice crystal.”
Furniture is a big seller, especially among young homeowners, local businesses and even dealers
Since opening 18 months ago, the shop has established a generous base of donors and a diverse clientele. According to Mangan, it attracts “people who might not otherwise shop in a charity shop” as well as students who can avail of the store’s generous half price discount.
“There is a huge cross-section of people,” says Mangan.
Like Age Action, furniture is a big seller, especially among young homeowners, local businesses and even dealers.
“We had a lovely girl in last week who bought a display cabinet,” he says. “It was something that she said reminded her of her granny’s house years ago and she just had to have it.”
“Local restaurants come in to buy chairs and stools. A nice dressmaking service up the street bought a lovely oak sideboard . . . to dress up the shop.”
“[People] will buy furniture to repair and restore. I would have a number of dealers that would come in here on a regular basis or I would contact them to say, ‘I have such and such in here, I think you might be interested in it.’”
The quality of the donations is the key to the shop’s success and Mangan praises the donors for consistently dropping in high-quality products.
“It’s a joy to come into work every day,” he says. “I don’t feel like I’m going to work at all. It’s like working in a sweet shop or something.”
Whether you’re on the hunt for some bargains or looking to deposit some of your own pre-loved items, it’s clear there has never been a better time to visit your local charity shop. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.