Not chicken scratch

Chicken Alley Art Show
Some people got into line two hours before the 3 pm opening of the Chicken Alley Art Show. Photos by Mary Baker

By Anna Marie D'Addarie - August 16, 2007

Once again this year, people waited outside in Sunday's hot August sun, some for almost two hours, just to be among the first to get into the Chicken Alley Art Show at the Thrift Shop in Vineyard Haven. Veterans of this quirky art sale know the routine and brought folding chairs, something to read, and wore floppy sun hats to make waiting in line a little easier. People chatted easily among themselves and their new line-mates, but as soon as the doors opened it was every man for himself.

Kamla Branche of Oak Bluffs said, "It's the hunt" that brought her to the show on Lagoon Pond Road. It was her first time but she enjoys a good yard sale and flea market.

"I took a vacation day to come today," said Jean Tatelbaum of Edgartown. She was looking for work by Island artists and got into line at 2 pm.

A tent covered the parking lot in front of the blue corrugated metal building that is the unpretentious home of the Thrift Shop. The shop is run by Martha's Vineyard Community Services, and managed by Dolly Campbell. On display boards under the tent, framed art taunted customers at the front of the line, a line that snaked the length of the building and down into a sandy parking lot beyond, offering a somewhat less intriguing view. All the items were donated to the Thrift Shop, some specifically for this sale. Vintage pieces of linen, clothing, and jewelry are also saved for this special day.

Andy Harrison
Andy Harrison eyed this rug while waiting in line for the Chicken Alley Art Show to open on Sunday. He grabbed it as soon as he could.

None of that mattered when the line began to move and eager customers filled the tent. When the dust settled two hours later, tired volunteers were able to take a breather from restocking, wrapping, and waiting on customers.

Before the sale Ms. Campbell said, "We have never been more organized. We were done (ready to open) by 11 o'clock." Aside from the long checkout line, a solution was soon worked out, and the day went very well.

"We sold so much more than ever before," said Ms. Campbell on Tuesday after the sale. "We're almost empty. We're thrilled with the feedback." The sale netted $21,000 on Sunday and another $6,000 on Monday and Tuesday as late shoppers visited the store in search of treasures.

Ms. Campbell said there were less high priced items this year, and they tried to have something for everyone's price range, even children.

For those who like to gamble, four gift baskets, each with a different theme, were raffled off. Judy O'Melia, an Oak Bluffs summer resident, made the baskets with Thrift Shop items and added her own extras too. They were beautiful.

A tremendous amount of work goes into the Chicken Alley Art Show each year. The staff, mostly volunteer, spends a great deal of time on this one event. Everyone on the staff seemed pleased that the community supported the sale by buying art and having fun too.