At long last, a miracle has occurred! A Container Store has opened for business here in New Mexico. Cue the Hallelujah Chorus! Fire the canons! Pop the champagne corks! Release the confetti, doves, and balloons!
Albuquerque, prepare to feast your eyes — and open your wallets!
It was a huge step down for me, in terms of access to organizing supplies, when I moved from California to New Mexico in 2005. I traded the two-story Pasadena Container Store — with its valet parking, freight elevator, and abundance of storage options, accessories, and gadgets — for the 99 cent clear plastic shoe boxes at Big Lots, plus a black Sharpie and some masking tape. (OK, an exaggeration, but only a mild one.)
Welcome to organizing paradise
The pre-grand-opening VIP party was great fun. There were private tours, special discounts, gorgeous flowers, fancy food, and champagne. I attended with my PONM buddies and generated much good-natured envy among my friends and followers on social media.
I posted photos and asked readers to guess where I was. More than one replied along these lines: “You must have died, because it looks like you’re in Heaven!” Indeed, The Container Store is like Paradise and the Holy Grail to most professional organizers.
Who doesn’t love whole walls full of clothes hanger and wall hook choices? The latest in closet, kitchen, and garage organization? A rainbow selection of file cabinets?
But… I have mixed feelings.
The first question everyone asks eagerly, once they learn I’ve been to the new store is: “What did you buy?” And my answer surprises them: Nothing. I didn’t buy a single thing.
Why not? I’m not opposed to buying things I need, and I’m certainly not opposed to buying them at The Container Store. They are a NAPO corporate partner, after all. But I just don’t need anything right now. I’ll go again later if, and when, I need something, I can assure you!
So…why am I not more excited?
Because I know that some of you – or someone you know — will forget that organizing is a process, not an event. And that containerizing is NOT the first step in the organizing process!
Sorting, purging, and assigning homes for your things all come before containerizing. And, as you work methodically through these proven steps, you usually will find yourself freeing up containers, some of which are still perfectly good. I always tell new clients to NOT buy anything before I come, because they might already have everything they need!
How can you go wrong?
If you think a shopping trip will solve all of your organizing problems, think again. It may even create some problems you didn’t already have!
The extreme organization and beauty of the displays alone can seduce you into thinking that you, too, would be organized if only you were to buy some of these containers! Add a sale or discount on top of that and the temptation mounts.
Here are some recent comments I’ve read and overheard:
“The price was too good to pass up.”
Ack! This is how homes get cluttered and people get poor. How ironic would it be if your home got cluttered with pretty new Container Store merchandise? Remember: You save up to 100% if you don’t buy anything!
“You can never have too many fill in the blank.”
Yes, you CAN have too many fill in the blank. Trust me!
“Such pretty colors. Now to decide what I need these for.” — and — “What could I put in this cute container?”
Nooooo! Don’t put the cart before the horse!
Here are my 7 tips for shopping at the Container Store without getting overwhelmed, cluttered, and broke:
Let’s say you are inspired to re-focus on your organizing project, or start a new one. Great! By all means, head for The Container Store….but first, please:
- Don’t skip steps. Sort. Purge. Assign a home for all the things you are keeping. If you skip straight to containerizing, chances are 80% that you will discover you did not get the right number, or the right size, or the right style for your needs. (I just made that up, but it suddenly seemed like a good application of The 80/20 Rule.)
- Make a list. What is your goal? Which containers or gadgets do you need? What problem will they solve? Do they need to be sturdy, decorative, or both? What size? Style? Quantity? Material? Color?
- Measure your space, and your stuff, and write the numbers down on your list. Draw a diagram that you can refer to while shopping, or take a photo to help you remember what you need.
- Do your homework. Here is the top advantage — it’s also the top disadvantage — of shopping at The Container Store: So many choices! You simply can’t beat the convenience of so many organizing products available under one roof! But it can also be overwhelming. If you don’t focus on your goal, it’s easy to get distracted. Although the Albuquerque store doesn’t have every item shown (just so you know), their website is still a fantastic place to research your storage solutions before going to the store. It will save you lots of time, money, and energy. Don’t miss the videos and blog posts in each section describing the products and their applications in more detail.
- Set a budget. You are going shopping to solve a problem. Not for the fun of it. Well, OK, it WILL be fun, but there’s no reason to break the bank over it. Either way – shopping for necessity, or for fun — see #6.
- Keep a separate wish list. If you see some bright and shiny new things that tempt you, that you’d never considered buying before, jot them down or snap a photo. Promise yourself you will go back and buy them later if you still really want to. Impulse buys will only add to your clutter and subtract from your wallet. Chances are you’ll want to cross some things off your wish list when you look at it again later.
- Enjoy your purchases! Go home and feel the satisfaction of having purchased just the right items, and not a bunch of stuff you don’t need.
So…go forth and organize! You have my blessing…as long as you containerize responsibly!
And remember, I’m here for you if you would like my help. Together we will identify what you use, love, and want to keep. Then we’ll store it in an organized manner and decide what to do with your unwanted items (e.g. toss, donate, sell). After that, if you need, or want, additional or upgraded storage, by all means, treat yourself to some pretty, new, exciting Container Store containers!
Don’t live in Albuquerque? No problem! I can help you virtually, or refer you to a trusted NAPO colleague near you.
What about you? Do you have a Container Store nearby? Do you love it? What is your favorite product? Please share with us in the comments below!
Copyright 2017 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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