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'Tidying Up' Netflix show brings record January donation numbers to PROP Shop
Eden Teller / Photo by Eden Teller 

Vicki Bomben shows an unopened package of thermal underwear recently donated to the PROP Shop. She suspects that the Netflix show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” has inspired people to donate belongings they might otherwise keep.

When Netflix released “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” earlier this year, the effects rippled far beyond the closets and basements of newly-inspired organizers.

“This January, we’ve had more donations than any other January since we started,” said Cindy Eddy, founder and director of Eden Prairie’s PROP Shop. “We’re tickled.”

January is usually a slow month for the secondhand store, but last month, donations rose nearly 20 percent compared to previous years, said operations manager Vicki Bomben.

The Netflix show features organizational expert Marie Kondo as she helps families declutter their lives by asking which of their belongings “spark joy.” Multiple donors have name-dropped the show as they drop off bags and bins of belongings at the PROP shop, Bomben said.

Many of the donated items are of higher quality or better condition than the shop usually sees.

“People are getting rid of a lot better stuff,” Eddy said. “We see everybody’s excess.”

Eden Teller / Photos by Eden Teller  

Vicki Bomben shows a Swarovski necklace donated to the PROP Shop. This January’s donations have seen an uptick in higher-quality items.

That excess includes a $1,900 suit, complete with tags, that sold for $50. Occasionally the shop receives higher-value jewelry items, which are sold to a jeweler or kept until a professional can evaluate them. Other jewelry, like 58 gold-colored cat pins that were in one recent donation, have more sentimental than monetary value.

Kondo advises would-be tidiers to donate or toss items that don’t actively contribute to their happiness. Bomben and Eddy, who have both tried the method themselves, have experienced how Kondo’s advice can dramatically reduce the size of a wardrobe.

“I have stuff I bought that had the tags still on it in the closet,” Bomben admitted. “It doesn’t spark joy.”

The first month of the year is usually a slow one for the PROP Shop, which highlighted the uptick in donations last month. December often sees a rise in donations as people clean up ahead of major holidays, and by January, Bomben speculated, that energy has been depleted.

Although donations rise and fall, winter remains a high-need season every year as the weather demands new coats, boots, and school clothes for families in need.

“Winter time is hard,” Bomben said.

The rhythms of the year affect the shop’s helpers as well. Alicia Yost coordinates volunteers for the PROP Shop and has picked up on several patterns that can determine who will have time to help out for a shift or two.

“I see it cyclically,” Yost said of the volunteer schedule. Older folks depart for warmer climes in January, while in the fall, parents whose small children return to school start volunteering. Summer brings many teenage volunteers to the store, but July steals whole families away for vacations.

Eden Teller / Photo by Eden Teller  

Christine Poague-Short sorts belts that have come in with a surge of donations this January.

“We know the busiest vacation month because of that,” Bomben said.

Christine Poague-Short trains volunteers at the PROP Shop and has experienced what Kondo calls the “magic” of tidying. She recently donated six bags of clothing at once and felt a rush of relief.

“I have a weight lifted off of me,” Poague-Short said.