Want to make a difference in the community this holiday season? Here’s an easy way: Buy from the online marketplace Tisbury Turkey (tisburyturkey.com), and support Vineyard nonprofits without spending an extra penny. Choose a product from a variety of the Island’s favorite artisans, subscribe to a seasonal Goodbox of local treats, or shop online at one of your favorite stores, including Amazon or Target, and a portion of your regular spending will be donated to a local cause.
According to founder Susan Ciatto, Tisbury Turkey began in 2013 as an online shopping site with links to big-box stores. Using the stores’ referral programs, it was a way to bring money that was leaving the Island through Internet shopping back to the local community. Ms. Ciatto began marketing the Tisbury Turkey brand with a logo of — you guessed it — a turkey, created by Island graphic designer Ben Scott of Blue Rock Design. She sold T shirts with the iconic bird at the Featherstone Flea and Fine Arts Market, the beneficiary of Tisbury Turkey’s online efforts at the time. The company name and logo were inspired by Ms. Ciatto’s grandfather, who ran and later owned the Tisbury Farm, which produced turkeys on the Island in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. “The farm was an important part of my family’s history, so when it was time to give a name to our Vineyard-focused website, it was an obvious choice,” says Ms. Ciatto.
Through her early days at Featherstone, Ms. Ciatto came to know the artisans and shoppers at the flea and understand their needs and habits, resulting in Tisbury Turkey’s online artisan store. The website expanded to include a collection of local artists’ goods for purchase à la carte or as part of a Goodbox, a seasonal subscription containing items from Vineyard craft and food vendors. Over the past two years, the business model has evolved, and Ms. Ciatto is committed to finding new ways to help artisans and businesses promote their products online to create a year-around audience for their work. She describes it as simple: “You shop, we give. Whether you are shopping Target.com or our artisan shop, money makes its way back into the local community. Everything we do supports that purpose: bringing Internet dollars back into the local community.”
Today, Tisbury Turkey offers products from Austin Designs, L.A. Brown, Abe Pieciak, Flat Point Farm, Martha’s Vineyard Candle Co., Enchanted Chocolates, Chilmark Coffee Company, Martha’s Vineyard Beach Gems, Michael Blanchard, Ingrid Goff-Maidoff, Leslie Freeman Designs, Martha’s Vineyard Honey Co., My Views Photos, Stella B, Vineyard Seadogs, Washington Ledesma, and Ben and Bill’s. More are being added.
Artisans featured on the site are included in Goodboxes, but they also offer items individually in the online store. Several artists are even developing Tisbury Turkey–exclusive items, including a selection of greeting cards from Michael Blanchard.
For each artisan product purchased through Tisbury Turkey, 5 percent of retail sales and $5 from each subscription box goes to support the company’s fundraising partner. More than one hundred big-box stores can be accessed from tisburyturkey.com, and 5 to 6.5 percent of those retail sales are donated to the featured campaign. Currently, Friends of Family Planning is the beneficiary. It’s the first organization to be supported by Tisbury Turkey for the second time. Other beneficiaries have included Featherstone, Saltwater Heroes, BiodiversityWorks, Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard, Island Housing Trust, and the Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation.
According to Ms. Ciatto, $2,800 has been raised through Tisbury Turkey to benefit local charities. She couldn’t be more grateful. “I’ve learned so much over the past couple years, and I’m still learning,” she said. “Vineyard artisans are so generous with me and with Island nonprofits. I want to help them any way I can. As small business owners, building websites and promoting themselves online can be challenging. Besides including their products in my store and exposing their products to new customers in our Goodboxes, I’m trying to grow an online community of artists to support the local community vis-à-vis a global audience.”
No matter where you shop online, by starting at Tisbury Turkey you can “Do the Vineyard Good.”