Jessica Duneman, the director of retail operations at The Resale Shop, a St. Louis thrift store operated by the National Council of Jewish Women, saw much the same thing. “We had our regulars donating and strangers donating,” Ms. Duneman said. “People were looking for anywhere they could unload.” At one point, she recalled, there were 11 storage units in the store’s parking lot to handle the overflow — dishes, kitchen gadgets “and clothing galore.”
The quality of resale items jumped along with the quantity, allowing consignment shops, like One More Time (clothing) and One More Time Etc (furniture) in Columbus, Ohio, to be more selective, said Chris Swanson, the store’s owner. It’s been a similar story with donations to The Thrift Store in Rapid City, S.D. “They’re much better than what we usually see,” said Jeanni Gossard, the manager of the shop which benefits the Club for Boys, also in Rapid City. “During the pandemic, people had more time to pay attention to what they were giving us.”
Those who initially had modest decluttering plans — cleaning out a single closet, perhaps, or the junk drawer in the kitchen — soon became ensorcelled.
“I really got into it,” said Andrea Burnett, 58, a book publicist who lives with her family in a three-bedroom house in Richmond, Calif. “Because there was nothing else to do, I was watching ‘The Home Edit,’ ” Ms. Burnett said, referring to the Netflix series “Get Organized with the Home Edit.” “Everything streaming that I could watch on the topic became my declutter porn.”
“Do I need this?” became the question Ms. Burnett mentally asked herself about nearly everything in the house. Few objects could justify their presence. Clothing, appliances, china, lamps, furniture and art supplies were donated to the Humane Society and a local women’s shelter. “The only things that were safe,” Ms. Burnett said, “were the French press and my bed.”