Tidying up with Marie Kondo on Netflix unleashed a decluttering craze. To KonMari is now a recognized verb, but where does this trend leave self storage?
In January 2019, Netflix released a new television series with the Japanese born tidying consultant and bestselling author Marie Kondo. Her concept of sparking joy was immediately embraced by consumers, first in the USA and then slowly across the globe. Similar shows popped up on every television network and streaming service. Sales of label printers jumped up. The self storage industry also can profit from this new fad.
Her method to tidy up your house and bring new life to your own four walls is straightforward enough; follow these six steps:
1 – Commit to tidying up. It should be a one-time effort, not a continuous process.
2 – Imagine your ideal lifestyle. Every success story starts with a visualization of the result.
3 – Finish discarding first. This helps you understand how much storage space you will require and how to organize the items you choose to keep.
4 – Tidy by category, not room. Instead of doing the bedroom first and living room next, start by doing all your clothes first and then move to the next type of item.
5 – Follow the right order – this means clothes, books, papers, small items (komono), and sentimental items last.
6 – Does it bring you joy? If yes, keep it. If no, thank it for the service and discard.
In a world where urbanization and rising real estate prices leave renters and owners with smaller and smaller living spaces, it is no wonder why Marie Kondo and other tidying consultants are booming in demand.
As contradictory as it might sound, her message of minimalism and clarity has sparked a consumerism boom. Sales for storage containers, label printers, and shredders have skyrocketed. So have donations to thrift stores. Both the series and her previous books coincided with an overall shift in values towards mindfulness, health, and wellness. A tidy home is the first step into a new, happier life – so goes Marie’s message. It resonated well with consumers and created ample opportunities for manufacturers and marketers to offer products that meet this demand.
If everyone is decluttering and discarding possessions that don’t bring them joy, does it mean that the industry is in for a decline? The data is inconclusive. The demand curve for self storage has indeed flattened. But with so many factors contributing to it – among them a looming recession – it is difficult to blame the tidying trend alone.
After all, downsizing and decluttering are nothing new. If anything, one of the most significant recent drivers for the growth of self storage was baby boomers downsizing their homes, the international mobility of students and young professionals, and the rise of the digital nomad lifestyle.
Marie Kondo wrote her first book in 2014. While Netflix introduced her to a broader audience, she and her colleagues in the tidiness consultant industry had a large following before. More often than not, items that didn’t pass the joy test end up in storage rather than the garbage pile. Out of sight, out of mind. Discarding things is difficult, after all. As humans, we tend to attach emotional value to our worldly possessions.
Operators quickly jumped on this new trend and offered their services: KonMari your home; embrace your newfound self; lead a happier life and keep it that way – with the company you trust.
Decluttering the kitchen cabinet is easy, but it becomes much harder to label something as ‘does not bring joy’ when it comes to sentimental items. Even when there is no joy attached, it can be hard to toss childhood memorabilia or grandma’s silverware into the bin. Self storage is the solution for these and all other ‘might come in handy later’ things that usually fill cabinets, cupboards, and closets; without a guilty conscience.
Renters of storage units can enjoy their minimalist, clean apartments and the peace of mind of still owning as many things as before. The self storage startup Neighbor even suggested that families could start renting out their neatly tidied garages and attics as storage space to others.
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