I was furious. I’d only had my tuning fork and rose quartz crystal set for a few days and already there were a bunch of dents in the fork’s aluminum alloy prongs. Apparently, I’d been striking them together too enthusiastically in my quest to restore a sense of balance to my home.
The $75 combo was one of many purchases I’d just made from tidying-up lifestyle guru Marie Kondo’s new online store, the Shop at KonMari, which opened on her KonMari.com website earlier this month. It’s filled with items that Kondo says she likes to use in her everyday life, from the crystal and tuning fork set to a goat-and-vegetable-hair computer brush ($35) to a pair of leather room shoes ($206).
If these things sound mostly ridiculous and wasteful, well, many of them are. At the least, it feels a little contradictory to buy things from Kondo, a de-cluttering expert, author, and Netflix (NFLX) series star who has spent years using her KonMari method to teach us to better organize our homes and to dump items that don’t “spark joy” in our lives.
Kondo’s philosophies on tidying don’t scorn keeping stuff, but an important tenet is that you rid yourself of any stuff that doesn’t bring you happiness. It makes sense that she’d sell books to communicate her ideas. Selling a collection of other merchandise, however — even things that “spark joy” for Kondo and are meant to, as the website says, “enhance your everyday routine” — can feel like a violation of that philosophy.
This feels particularly true when it’s done via an online store. Kondo has preached the importance of having people “hold each item in your hands, as close to your heart as possible” to see if it sparks joy. But this is impossible when you’re shopping on the web, at least until your credit card is charged and the box and packaging are already littering your home.
I’m not a serious Kondo acolyte. But my husband and I hate the chaos of messes so much that you might not believe, upon walking into our home, that we have a three-year-old and a baby on the way. We even include our daughter in a lot of the cleaning and tidying we do around the house. At the same time, I enjoy buying stuff, particularly when it hews to Kondo’s minimalist aesthetic. I was curious to know whether the stuff she enjoys would spark joy in my life, too.
So I did the only thing that made sense: I spent $200 on items ranging from persimmon tree chopsticks ($10) to a glass teapot ($25) to Kondo’s new tidying-themed children’s book, “Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship” ($18), in an effort to find out.
A ton of tidy presents
A couple days after placing my order online, a slate-gray-and-yellow-box emblazoned with a “KM” logo and the words “handle with joy” appeared on my doorstep. Everything inside the box was wrapped in tissue paper. An envelope on top offered a touching reminder: “Things that are cherished shine.”
Inside the envelope was a postcard from Kondo, cheerfully thanking me for shopping at her store and explaining that the “goal of tidying is to make room for meaningful objects, people and experiences.” I assumed those meaningful objects include all the things she deems worthy of hawking on her website.
Despite the eye-rolling I engaged in when learning about Kondo’s online store (and, admittedly, once again when I saw the box on my doorstep), I felt giddy unwrapping the items. It was like I’d just gotten a ton of tiny, tidy presents, but wasteful, too, since some, like the crystal and tuning fork set, were in their own little drawstring bags.
I pulled the tissue off the crystal first; it was bigger than I expected, with a sharp tip. The tuning fork felt cool in my hand, and had a “KM” logo etched into it. When I tapped the crystal on the fork, it made a high-pitched whine that made me cringe. I cringed even more when, a few days later, I went onto Amazon (AMZN) and found I could get a nice-looking tuning fork in the same frequency for $15 and a rose quartz crystal of the same size for $6.75.
I was similarly disappointed when it came to a pair of chopsticks and a ceramic chopstick rest ($8). The chopsticks were rougher than I would have liked, making me worried I’d get a splinter while eating; the chopstick rest was functional but not any better than others I’ve used. A crumb brush ($24) proved to be a useful, and cool-looking, cleaning tool, but not much better than my ugly but easy-to-hide scrubbing sponges.
A couple items surprised me, however. A bottle of Clean Slate Smoke-Free Smudge Mist ($27) had sounded ridiculous at first. The website described it as a “smoke-free approach to smudging” and it came with a thimble’s worth of semiprecious stones rattling around the bottom of the blue glass bottle. My husband shook his head reading the list of ingredients, including “sonically tuned water” and palo santo.
And yet, when I sprayed it in my bedroom, I was taken aback by how nice it smelled — kind of woodsy and citrusy and minty.
The scent didn’t linger long, even with the windows closed, which is thrilling to someone like myself with a sensitive nose. I’ve since used it daily in different rooms while working at home alone, enjoying the little waft of scent that perks me up after hours in front of the computer screen. (I still think the crystals in the bottom of the bottle are silly, though.)
A glass teapot with a mesh metal strainer turned out to be a good purchase, too, especially for $25, despite the naysayer living in my house.
“We already have a teapot that we never use,” my husband said, perplexed, when I showed him the one on my Shop at KonMari invoice.
He’s right; we have a beautiful wood-and-ceramic Marimekko one that would fit in perfectly (looks- and price-wise) at Kondo’s online store. And yet, I had forgotten how nice it can be to take the time to brew and enjoy drinking a cup of loose-leaf tea; this glass teapot helped me get back in the practice. Sure, I don’t need it, but I’d definitely buy it as a housewarming or wedding gift.
The teapot and some of the other purchases made me think about how, sometimes, the best way to spark joy — in yourself, in a friend, or even in a home — really is by buying things. Organization and tidying have their time and place, but there is joy in consumerism, and Kondo is clearly embracing that, too. You might not want to buy from her, but opening the online store is an undeniably clever business move.
I still have mixed feelings about getting these objects from the Shop at KonMari, but for now, at least, “Kiki and Jax,” Kondo’s children’s book on tidying (which sparked a surprising amount of joy in my toddler), the teapot, and the heinously expensive smoke-free smudge mist will stay at our house. Some of the other items, meanwhile, will be passed on to friends who are much more excited by the prospect of, say, a (slightly banged-up) tuning fork and crystal set.