Its official name is the Martha's Vineyard Community Services Thrift Shop, but everyone knows it as Chicken Alley these days. It's basically the Vineyard version of Goodwill; all sales benefit the Martha's Vineyard Community Services network of support and community assistance. And it's cool. So very cool. It wasn't easy, but I pared it down to five exceedingly cool things you should know about Chicken Alley.
1. This Dog.
His name is Providence ("Provi"). He's part store-manager, part security lead, part art curator, and presumably part-Chihuahua. He even has his own bed on the counter next to the cash register. Be sure to say hello when you stop by.
2. It's called "Chicken Alley."
Who calls a store Chicken Alley, you ask? The guy who drove the moving truck, that's who. When the Martha's Vineyard Community Services Thrift Shop moved from Main Street in Vineyard Haven to its current location, the mover, who lived nearby, referred to the new location as "Chicken Alley." None of the Thrift Shop workers had heard it called Chicken Alley before, but sure enough, the stretch of Lagoon Pond Road between Five Corners and the Lagoon has long been called "Chicken Alley" by old timers. Back in the day, it was common for folks along that stretch to keep chickens for their families, which made for considerable poultry traffic along that stretch of road. Hence the name. My very own old timer (Mom) verifies that indeed there was an overabundance of chickens down on Lagoon Pond Road in her youth, but then she also claims to know the guy who brought the first skunks to the Island, so take it as you will.
4. chickenalleythrift on Instagram
That's right. You will find shockingly great fashion and style photos by the ultra-awesome Vineyard native Noavakay Knight. She is also the genius behind the Needle Book Fashion Show, shop pup Providence's human, a fashion designer in her own right and jill-of-all-trades at Chicken Alley. Hired by clever store manager Sandy Pratt "to do that social media stuff" (with a fluttering wave of the hand), Knight delivers Chicken Alley coolness to the web near-seven-days-a-week. Learn more about Knight and her work on the Point B Realty blog and follow the chickenalleythrift instagram feed for a stream of fabulousness.
3. The Needle Book Fashion Show and Chicken Alley Art Sale
The biggest event this August on the Vineyard? Sorry, Mr. President, the paparazzi are going to be too busy over on Lagoon Pond Road next weekend to bother chasing down your caravan. The weekend opens with the Needle Book Fashion Show at the thrift shop Friday, August 15 at 7 pm. The Art Sale opens in the same location on Sunday, August 17 and runs all week long.
If you're wondering whether a thrift shop fashion show can rival the runways at New York's Fashion Week, you clearly know nothing about Martha's Vineyard. Needle Book features one-of-a-kind fashion by the Vineyard's own talented designers. This year, a generous donation from Valerie Beggs--the island designer behind "Woodland Waders" who now designs for Woolrich--will be highlighted, as well as designs from a variety of Vineyard designers including up-cycling artist Beldan Radcliffe, Randi & Marlene of Studio Shop, and the classic, romantic atelier Chrysal Parrot whose work has even graced the Red Carpet. And that's just the beginning! Hundreds of pieces of original art, vintage prints and collectibles will be available at the Art Sale Sunday and continuing all week long.
4. Fashion Show & Art Sale Posters
The art work created to advertise the art work for sale at Chicken Alley deserves its own mention. Island artist Marshall Pratt designs the unique posters for the Art Sale and Needle Book Fashion Show, and they are worth celebrating in their own right. Whimsical, enigmatic, and collectible, they capture the spirit of the events and of Chicken Alley itself. And now they can be purchased online through Tisbury Turkey to benefit Martha's Vineyard Community Services. Decorate your walls with Vineyard-grown art and help a great cause. Just how we like it!
5. $43,000 for charity. In one weekend.
You heard me right: according to the MV Times, The Needle Book Fashion Show and Chicken Alley Art Sale raised $43,000 last year. In one weekend. By far the biggest and most anticipated events hosted by Chicken Alley, the weekend's activities draw hundreds of visitors to the little shop on Lagoon Pond Road. Feeling inspired? Donations for the Art Sale are collected year around at the shop. Donations of all types of good quality, undamaged, salable goods are collected every day during business hours. For details, see the Thrift Shop page of the MVCS website here. And be sure to stop by Chicken Alley for some very special events that do #theVineyardGood next weekend.