New Brunswick

Spark joy: What libraries, thrift stores and Marie Kondo are saying about your stuff

The clean queen has inspired people around the world, and now her tidying adventures have hit New Brunswick.

New Brunswickers tidying up fuel boom in donations

Organizational expert Marie Kondo launched her Netflix series earlier this year, prompting people across the province to declutter their homes. (Seth Wenig/The Associated Press)

Elaine Shannon doesn't need a Marie Kondo hashtag on Instagram to help inspire a tidy home.

With two kids who just moved out and an 18-year-old son who's never home, she and her husband, Jaime, decided a four-storey house with three bathrooms was too much.

So they decided to downsize and prepare for the next chapter in their life.

Over the past few months Elaine Shannon of Rothesay has donated more than 100 books from her home. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

"I said 'OK we're going to start living with less,'" said Shannon, who has also been a professional organizer for more than a decade.

"I'm very much a minimalist. My husband just kind of follows along and hopes that I don't sell or get rid of everything he loves."

The Rothesay woman has spent the last several months donating her belongings online for others to enjoy. This includes furniture, old books and her art collection.

Although the 53-year-old has always identified as an organizer, Shannon has learned a thing or two from renowned tidying expert and Netflix superstar, Marie Kondo.

Kondo has become a craze because of her series Tidying up with Marie Kondo, where she instructs people around the world in how to declutter their homes.

With so many New Brunswickers trying to tidy up, libraries say book donations are "coming in by the boatload." 1:57

Her tactic — also known as the KonMari Method — is clear:

Get rid of anything that doesn't spark joy.

"The whole process of letting go has given me this gift of seeing our things can bring great joy to other people," Shannon said.

People will joke, kind of like, Say Yes to the Dress, but they'll be like, 'Does this give you joy?-Stephanie Wagner, Hospice Boutique Fredericton

Meanwhile, thrift stores and public libraries across the province have noticed an influx in donations since the television series started.

"It's just a constant turnover," said Stephanie Wagner, store manager at Hospice Boutique Fredericton.

Follow your intuition

Stephanie Wagner, manager of Hospice Boutique Fredericton, says she's seen a jump in book donations since Kondo's reality TV series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, began. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

Inside her store, Wagner has seen everything from wedding gifts to Christmas presents that still carry tags.

Book donations are also up.

Donors used to bring in about five or six books at any given time. 

"Lately, we've been getting boxes with 60 books in each box with four or five boxes, so quite an influx," Wagner said.

"One of our shelves in the backroom has so many books that it actually collapsed."

Her customers use the KonMari Method while they shop.

Hundreds of books are piled together in storage at the Fredericton boutique before they're sold. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

"People will joke, kind of like, Say Yes to the Dress, but they'll be like, 'Does this give you joy?'" she said. "If it does then they'll buy it. If not, maybe next time around."

Cherish the things you love

Shannon Shaban, store owner of Dayzee's Fashions Ltd. in Moncton, has noticed a huge boost in donations over the past two weeks.

"We kind of assumed it was the bad weather a few weeks ago, and a lot of women had time off to kind of clean their house out," she said.

Volunteers sort through an array of donations at Hospice Boutique Fredericton. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

"Then we realized it was the Netflix show that was getting everyone to clean out."

She has seen an assortment of items come through her doors, including dishes and a brand new crock pot. One women even dropped off three coffee makers.

Shaban has also noticed a jump in unworn clothing from Sears before the company shut down.

"People kind of went nuts for 75 per cent off."

Daniel Teed, head of community library services at the Saint John Free Public Library, said there has been a surge in book donations. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

So many goods came in, the Moncton shop had to throw a sale. 

Value Village has also reaped the benefits of the Marie Kondo trend.

"We're seeing an uptick of books and furniture being dropped off at our three New Brunswick stores," said Jen Guimond, store manager in Fredericton. 

An 'unusual uptick'

The library adds some books to its collection, but others are sold at a book sale to generate revenue for books that aren't typically donated, such as children's books. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

But it's not just thrift stores that have noticed a rise in donations.  

The Saint John Free Public Library has seen a "noticeable surge" in tax receipts handed out after book and DVD donations over the past few weeks.

"We were scratching our heads as to what's going on and why," said Daniel Teed, head of community library services at the Saint John Free Public Library.

"And somebody put two and two together."

Although the weeks after Christmas are often a busy time for donations, Teed called this flood of books an "unusual uptick."

It's not always about joy.- Daniel Teed, Saint John Free Public Library

"They're just coming in by the boatload."

People bring in fiction, gardening books, cookbooks, popular fiction and non-fiction.

"They read through and then they're done with it, and then say, 'I might as well give this to the library, so that as many people can enjoy this as possible,'" he said.

One of Kondo's techniques is to keep fewer than 30 books on her personal bookshelf. Teed said this has sparked a debate among authors and book lovers around the world.

"Books and other forms of art are not necessarily about sparking joy," he said. "They're to spark thinking, they are utilitarian, they help us to experience multiple perspectives and rethink things.

"It's not always about joy."

The donations, however, benefit the library by adding to its collection or to the offerings in its continuing book sale, which generates revenue.

"For us it's a good thing," he said. "Donations make an enormous part of our collection."


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