Martha's Great American Tag Sale

When I received an email from one of Martha's television producers in early April of this year telling me that Martha would like me to attend her first ever tag sale at her farm in Bedford, New York, I was floored. She asked if I was interested in attending and being one of the featured guests on a television program about the event. I wasted no time in replying a resounding "YES!" What followed were two weeks of preparation for the trip - my first trip out of the country (I live in Canada) since the pandemic hit in early 2020. I had to get everything in order, including all my vaccination papers, all of the documents required to be on the television show and make all the travel plans. It was a short window of time to plan it, but I was determined to make it happen. And happen it did!

Martha held a pre-sale cocktail party at the stables on her property, which I was invited to but was not able to attend because of scheduling. I regret not trying just a little bit harder to get that extra day off work - but it's all hindsight now. You will see photos of this cocktail party in an upcoming post by Bernie Wong and Dennis Landon, two of Martha's biggest fans (who met on the Martha Moments group!) and collectors of her merchandise. They were also asked by Martha to attend the tag sale.

Not only did I get to see Martha again and chat with her on a few different occasions, I got to meet so many of the people I had corresponded with for years on the Martha Moments Facebook group, including Bernie and Dennis, who have become great friends. I was so proud that Martha Moments had a really strong representation at the tag sale and that it was regarded by Martha, and much of her staff, as THE resource for fans online and on social media. Everyone I met from the group was so warm, caring, friendly and generous. But, honestly, I would expect nothing less from such a great group of people. 

Below are some of my photos from the event. Please be sure to watch the program about the tag sale, which airs on ABC on Wednesday, May 25th, at 8 pm. You will see me, Bernie, Dennis, and several other Martha Moments 'regulars' on the show! It's going to be great fun! Enjoy!

The morning of the tag sale, everyone was asked to park at the John Jay Homestead, which is just a short drive from Martha's home in Bedford, New York. I was so enchanted by the old 1787 homestead, which is where statesman John Jay, one of three authors of The Federalist Papers and the first Chief Justice of the United States, retired. Everyone attending the tag sale was asked to park on the large lawn. From there, attendees would be transported to the sale in shuttle vans, scheduled to arrive and depart at timed intervals, based on the ticket timeslots. 
These are the vans that transported the guests from the John Jay Homestead to Martha's farm. They are shown here in Martha's driveway the morning of the event.
Before heading up to the vans, Bernie Wong and I stopped for a quick photo. We were both so excited to be there! Bernie and Dennis both dressed in really fun mint-green overalls and green patterned shirts. Bernie's favourite colour is green (it's also one of Martha's favourites) and they both looked so great. 

Bernie, Dennis and myself were referred to by the producers as "the superfans" - the ones asked by Martha to attend the sale. We were given the royal treatment - we even had our own private shuttle van that would pick us up from the tag sale whenever we were ready to leave! We felt very special, indeed!
Everyone who attended the sale was given a paper wristband with a number on it. They were, of course, Bedford Gray, and emblazoned with Martha's iconic sycamore logo, which is the symbol of her farm, Cantitoe Corners. The number on the wristbands helped the salespeople keep track of our purchases as they were taken from the tables and placed aside until you were ready to pay.
When we arrived, Martha was waiting for all of us - with the cameras rolling for the ABC special about the sale. Martha instructed the large crowd to please be careful when they were shopping: "No pushin', no shovin'...walk, don't run!" Everyone was definitely very excited and it wasn't a stretch to believe that some people would 'crash the gates' as it were. But everyone was very respectful. These are MARTHA fans, after all! We know etiquette. Martha rang a large bell to announce the official opening of the tag sale and we were off! (As I went past Martha I gave her a quick kiss on the cheek! She approved.)
There was SO MUCH to look at and take in! It was overwhelming at first: chairs, tables, hutches, desks, benches, dishes, glasses, serveware, cookware, bakeware, books, magazines, all kinds of furniture and decorative accessories, from lamps to candlesticks to rugs to mirrors... And they were all part of Martha's personal collection. Many of the objects had been used in her houses over the years, in her kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms. There was even clothing Martha had worn!
Each item was tagged and priced. Many of the prices were very reasonable and all of the objects were in excellent condition, of course. Martha takes care of her things, as well all know.
There were so many unique and beautiful things. I, of course, wondered where everything had been, originally. Many of the items were from her home in East Hampton, Lily Pond Lane, which she sold last summer.

I loved this piece so much, but it was well beyond my budget - and my capacity to bring it home across the border to Canada in the trunk of my car! But it was stunning.
The tag sale was held in the hay field of Martha's farm. None of the main houses or stables were visible from this section of the farm.
Outside the tents was all of the outdoor furniture! There was SO MUCH!
I loved these beautiful wooden chairs. I remember seeing them on Martha's terrace in many photographs. 
Not far from here was the "contemporary house" on Martha's property - the only residential structure Martha has not yet refurbished, inside or out. There were all manner of bedframes, hutches, framed prints and posters for sale in this structure. Adjacent to it was another tent filled with wicker furniture, garden urns, flower pots and more!
At the end of a very long driveway through the woods was an enormous storage barn, where I'm assuming many of the items had initially been stored. Even still, it was packed to the rafters with items from Martha's old television studios and offices, including this original "American Made" sign that had once hung in the clerestory of the Starett-Lehigh building, where the Omnimedia offices had once been located. In this barn were Martha Stewart products for sale: merchandise from Macy's, Martha by Mail, Home Depot, Home Decorators, Wayfair and more. There were bins of Christmas ornaments, scrapbooks, tote bags - all manner of items that bore the Martha Stewart imprint. 


Truth be told, it was the people I met at the tag sale who really made the whole thing special for me. Aside from seeing Martha again, which was so wonderful, it was meeting people like Bernie and Dennis, and many others from the Martha Moments Facebook group who made their way to the tag sale from various parts of the United States: Anthony, Tim, Matt, Jennifer, Jeremy, Kristina... All such friendly people I had admired from afar now standing with me in Martha's yard! Everyone I met made the experience brighter, more engaging and certainly more memorable. 
This was "our group" - the people I spent the most time with at the tag sale. Front and center is the amazing designer and ceramicist Christopher Spitzmiller who is as much a Martha fan as the rest of us! Jennifer Zimmerman, far left, was like a big sister to Bernie, Dennis and myself and encouraged us at every turn. That's Bernie and Dennis looking dashing in their matching outfits! To Chris's right is Tim Obert, a Martha enthusiast who only recently discovered Martha Moments. Next to him is Anthony Picozzi, the co-administrator of our Martha Moments Facebook group and someone I've admired for many years. And far right is Matt Obey, Tim's partner and administrator of the @purelysalem Instagram page, which is worth checking out!
One of the highlights was finally meeting Kevin Sharkey, someone whose work I had admired in the magazine for decades. He is currently the executive vice president and executive director of design for the Martha Stewart brand. He was friendly and charming and we both enjoyed the light being cast upon our faces from the plethora of silver cake servers below us - three of which I purchased!
I had met Hannah Milman 11 years ago at an event at the Omnimedia offices but I got to speak with her more in depth at the tag sale. Hannah was the editorial director of crafts for Martha Stewart Living for many years and is responsible for so much of the inspirational projects we got to see over the years. I was so pleased to hear that she will be in charge of the new American Made initiative that Martha Stewart Living will be resurrecting! Stay tuned for more news on that! 
This is Jeremy Lambertson, a longtime member of the Martha Moments group and a reader of this blog for many, many years. It was great to finally meet him! He is a professional collector and he got some excellent things at the sale!
This is Jocelyn, the official writer and photographer for TheMarthaBlog.com. It was great to finally meet her! She said she always likes seeing my comments on the blog posts. 
Jocelyn snapped this photo of me with the plant stand I had just purchased - one that Martha painted herself at Lily Pond Lane. This photo later appeared on Martha's blog!
Bernie and Dennis posed with Wendy Norling and Ryan McCallister. Wendy is the caretaker of Martha's estate in Maine, Skylands, and Ryan is Martha's head gardener at Bedford. They were both so incredibly friendly and warm. 
Vincent Manzo, an antiques expert and appraiser, was on hand to help shoppers with any questions they may have had about any of the objects for sale. He helped Martha select and group the items, along with the main organizers of the event, Kaminski Auctions. Vincent was such a joy to be around and was so exceptionally sweet! He loved all of us Martha groupies!
This is Samantha Frisoli who was responsible for organizing much of the inventory and ensuring everything had the appropriate tag. When I met Sam, she told me she used this blog for so much of her research into many of Martha's own products! I was so honoured to hear that!
It was a great pleasure meeting Carey from The Idea Emporium. She told me she was a huge fan of the Martha Moments Instagram page. Her work has been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, as was her own wedding! She was so much fun!

You'll be hearing more about the sale here on the blog in the coming weeks, so be sure to check back. Bernie and Dennis will be sharing their memories here too! (They attended the cocktail party and got a special treat on the last day of the sale!) In the meantime, be sure to watch the one-hour special on ABC on Wednesday, May 25th, at 8pm: The Great American Tag Sale with Martha Stewart! You'll see me, and many of the people mentioned above!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this great experience. Just to be there and soak it all in, not to mention having the opportunity to purchase!!

Stephane In Alaska said...

I tried to share this on your post but it wouldn’t let me:

I love this post so much. It really gives a sense of the event to those of us who weren’t able to attend, and it communicates so much joy and spirit of community. Thank you, Andrew.

Tilly said...

This is so cool! I had seen snippets of her tag sale online but no one has posted this much about it. I look forward to hearing more.

Anonymous said...

OMG OMG Finally, You were there AR. Finally. your heartfelt dedication Recognized. I will now eat one serving of CROW. Soooo happy for you. The Internet is a magical thing- sincerely, the original hard boiled egg.

Anonymous said...

My goodness, watching the show and the staff scrambling to uncover more inventory for the last day was truly entertaining. What were they thinking- that day one would not be a sell a thon. I'm sure there was electricity in the air and a fun time was had by all. I was a bit disappointed that the grandchildren were not assisting in some manner preparing an omelet on a hot plate for example, LOL I enjoyed the photo of Alexis and the EH Yard Sale. Perhaps they were there but under the radar It was a momentous event worthy of them witnessing if you ask me, but you didn't ask me . And well AR was anybody selling food I mean was the hamlet of Bedford prepared for this Field day I mean if this caught them off guard good grief, excuse me I have to do a google search to see how the weakly er weekly paper covered the story.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Andrew for sharing your day at the tag sale with us. I was definitely envious of all the Martha products and
furniture available for sale. You have been such a loyal follower of Martha's life and it allows us to be a " fly on the Wall"
with your blog and recent posting! Please keep up your blog and posts for all of us across the country ( and Canada)!

Karen in Oregon