Chicken Alley art show goes virtual

Popular sale highlights the many talented artists and artisans of Martha’s Vineyard.


Chicken Alley Thrift Shop is hosting its 17th annual art and collectibles sale online now until August 31, according to a press release.

Chicken Alley is a part of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) and all proceeds from the sale benefit the programs and services of MVCS.

The beloved Island thrift shop has been known to locals as a popular hub for pleasant conversation among old friends and neighbors, and also a major supporter of arts and artisans across Martha’s Vineyard.

In order to highlight the talent of artists and the richness of arts and culture here on the Island, Chicken Alley features a curated collection of local paintings, antiques, vintage items, collectibles, Island curiosities, and unique pieces selected from thousands of generous donations that the shop receives throughout the year.

Among the must-have Island collectibles are several signed M.V. Agricultural Fair posters ranging from circa 2002 to 2010, handmade silver jewelry, embroideries, and paintings.

“One of the greatest things about the Art and Collectibles Sale is being able to share the work of Island artists and artisans with the community,” Jessica Tartell, Chicken Alley Thrift Shop manager, said in the release. “Even though we’ve moved online, this iconic sale still features unique, high-quality artwork — many pieces that are Vineyard-specific. This year we’re particularly excited about the number of Ag Fair posters we have accumulated, which always seem to be in high demand.”

Tartell told The Times that the first day of the sale went “incredibly well,” with more than 100 items sold on opening day alone.

“It was really surprising and impressive. We had three orders within the first two minutes of the sale,” Tartell said. And a number of customers are coming back and making multiple art purchases, Tartell said. Based on the excitement and demand on just the first day of the online sale, Tartell said, she anticipates the interest to be sustained, as new items are posted regularly in the coming weeks.

Although Tartell said creating the online platform and figuring out the logistics of the sale was a challenge, she said the many dedicated staff and volunteers who helped with the initiative made the entire process manageable.

“We usually have a big community event to celebrate this work, but we have to make changes and adjustments this time around,” Tartell said. “Clearly the desire for our unique treasures is there, and people have been really flexible in how they shop.”

She said the early success of the online sale is a testament to the hard work and commitment put forth by the staff and volunteers at Chicken Alley. “We pivoted very well thanks to an innovative staff and group of volunteers that did whatever it took to get the job done,” Tartell said.

And for customers who might not have the opportunity or might not feel safe going to a gallery to buy art, the online sale is a safe alternative that also celebrates Island artists and their work.

According to Tartell, most of the art in the sale is donated from people who originally bought art and want to pass those treasures on to be enjoyed by others. She said this is an important piece of the arts and culture community on the Island — keeping the art flowing, and encouraging people to create new works to fuel the love for locally sourced creativity.

“The way that we do this art sale, it really keeps the art alive, and keeps the artist as part of our narrative here on Martha’s Vineyard,” Tartell said. “There is such a special relationship between art, artisans, and this store that we will continue to cherish and foster.”

The online art and collectibles sale opened on Wednesday, August 12, at 12 pm, and will close on Monday, August 31, at 5 pm. New items will be added throughout the sale. Interested buyers can view and purchase items during this time by visiting the online sale.