Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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TV’s ‘Hoarders’ inspires de-cluttering stories

January 7, 2010

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From what I heard at holiday gatherings, a lot of people have been scared straight TV shows like “Hoarders” and “Clean House.”

De-cluttering and taming closet chaos were among the top resolutions for 2010. That’s good news for purveyors of organizing tools, junk-removal service and storage systems. And great fodder for some fun and useful biz centerpieces or multi-media shows.

On the extreme end, it’s a severe mental health issue that you can address as a business of health care or science writer.

Look into the treatment demand for clinically diagnosed compulsive hoarding – disposohobia – and whether more people are seeking help due to the disorder’s higher visibility in recent years? Check with local counseling centers, therapist, and psychiatrists for an interesting business of health angle.

A company called Disaster Masters offers advice and services to serious stuff-o-holics. Other support groups that might lead you to good voices and anecdotes include Messies Anonymous, Clutterers Anonymous, Home and Children of Hoarders.

Most of your mainstream audience won’t have such dire problems but still would relish a feature about the pure excess of stuff that swamps so many homes.

Consider running a local feature offering to hook up willing readers with de-cluttering experts for a pro-bono makeover. The National Association of Professional Organizers boasts more than 4,000 members and has a ZIP code-searchable directory on its site, as well as background information about the industry’s growth, ethics and so on.

Or, do a career / work-life profile on a handful of local organizers – what makes them tick, what do they earn and how did they get into the niche in the first place?

Other de-cluttering business angles:

Storage containers.

No more copier-paper boxes or grocery-store rejects; every place from the local hardware chain to bath stores to mass merchants to craft-supply sellers has sky-high piles of lidded plastic storage tubs, from small food-savers to jumbo bins the size of a bathtub. Talk to local retailers from office supply shops to dollar stores about this year’s demand for organizing supplies.

Closet and cabinet systems, furniture trends.

Builders, kitchen-and-bath remodeling centers, interior design trade groups and local furniture stores are a good source of information about what built-ins – if any – people are splurging on. You may find that this is a lingering recession story and that the higher-end de-cluttering systems have yet to bounce back.

Self-storage companies.

The Self Storage Association says it’s a $20 billion a year industry. In addition to storage complexes, check out mobile services like PODS and Moveable Cubicle. Self-storage is a franchise-heavy business meaning this could make for a good small business or entrepreneurs story.

Removal services

Like 1-800-Got-Junk? also are good for telling the tale of franchisees. And don’t forget to check with commercial waste haulers and recyclers about what they’re seeing curbside these days.

Mobile document shredding services. Many serve residential clients. But keep in mind that it’s not just consumers who are weeding out the clutter – this is a legitimate small business story, too.

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