A Bounty for the Basket Museum & a Holiday Festival

by Catherine Macallister

If you haven’t made your way Bartlett’s Farm for the Lightship Basket Museum’s Annual Yard Sale, make sure to put it on your calendar for Saturday November 23 and Sunday November 24, 2019. This is more than just a typical yard sale, items of every kind are available (and in great condition) and yours for the purchasing at this annual island affair. Locals, summer residents, businesses, and homeowners donate goods ranging from furniture and gardening tools to clothes, rugs and kitchen items. Most of the items are new or gently used and will make a fabulous addition to any home or space.

If you miss the Yard Sale, you can still visit the museum at 49 Union Street when they re-open for Stroll Weekend, December 6 and 7 from 10 am to 4 pm. They’ll offer an expanded gift shop featuring the work of local weavers and museum members. This is the perfect opportunity to see the work of many contemporary artists for sale in one place. A portion of the proceeds benefits the museum. Free admission to the museum both days, along with weaving demonstrations and refreshments.

The Annual Yard Sale benefits the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum, a community organization that honors the art form of basket making and basket makers, and has been a part of Nantucket for nearly 20 years. About 15 years ago, Peggy Kaufman, a current clerk, and Grace E Bardelis, former President of the Board of Directors for the museum, decided to host a yard sale at Bardelis’ house in an effort to raise funds for the organization. They raised about $300 for the Lightship Basket Museum—a huge success for the organization. Now, the Yard Sale is so large that it takes over the entire greenhouse and plant section of Bartlett Farm, and they often raise more than $100,000 during the two-day sale. The money raised helps to support the operational funds of the Nantucket Lightship Basket museum.

Peggy Kaufman brings a lifetime of retail experience to the event and helps to organize the event every year. It’s “something for the island… and services every person and nationality in the community, “ says Kaufman. The Yard Sale staff accepts donations year-round and has always held the Yard Sale the weekend before Thanksgiving, giving people plenty of time to clean out their houses and send in donations. Donated items, they are picked up by volunteer drivers and stored until the sale. Rafael Osona, island antiquarian and President Emeritus of the Lightship Basket Museum, will also collect unwanted items from houses while doing appraisals, adding them to the yard sale collection. Donors receive a tax deduction. “Nothing goes to waste,” says Kaufman, discussing how the extra items are packed up and either resold elsewhere or brought off-island to be sold or recycled.

Kaufman calls the team of 75 volunteers “retail geniuses,” as they bring new ideas to the event each year, ensuring all of the items find new homes on- or off-island. She designs the two-day sale like a department store so patrons can easily find their way to what they are looking for. “Furniture is our biggest seller,” says Kaufman, and there are a variety of types of furniture. Kaufman remarks how “each department is run by someone… where they create displays” adding, that they are “all working for the same cause.” This is truly a full-service experience as customers may find themselves drawn to a certain furniture piece but not liking the covering. Volunteers cannot only recommend a fabric from the fabrics department, but they can give the name of an upholsterer so that you leave confident in your furniture purchase. It’s a great alternative to shopping for furniture off-island: no hefty shipping fees. There’s even a baked goods section where delicious treats and tinned cookies can be purchased.

“We get marvelous things,” says Kaufman, speaking to the wide variety of items available for perusing and purchasing at the Yard Sale. “We’ve had people get rid of a room full of picnic baskets and among them was a Reyes basket!” They’ve also received exciting items like Chinese Masks and snakes. Kaufman recalls one particular moment in the children’s department where a young person was playing with Russian nesting dolls when a look of “pure wonder” crossed their face as they uncovered that the there were more dolls as you removed each layer: “it’s moments like that that make it all worth it,” says Kaufman.

Be sure to head on over to Bartlett’s Farm for this spectacular Yard Sale the weekend before Thanksgiving where you will find items that you never knew you needed. Treasures and deals await. The Yard Sale opens at 10 am on Saturday, November 23 and Sunday, November 24. Earlybird shopping begins at 9am on Saturday for a small entry fee of $10.