After learning that three more Island businesses are closing their doors this month, Alley Cat and Beetlebung Dry Goods, both in Vineyard Haven, and b*tru in Oak Bluffs, it’s hard to even think about talking about shopping online or off-Island.
The whole Island loses when a business closes here, and it’s so important for us to shop local whenever possible.
However, there are times that you might have to shop online or elsewhere simply because what you need is not available anywhere here. We’re a small place after all.
When in that position, there’s a way to shop online and give back to the Vineyard. How you might wonder? Well with Tisbury Turkey.
Before meeting with founder Susan Ciatto the other day, I didn’t know much about Tisbury Turkey. I’d seen their fabulous turkey logo around, which was created by Island company Blue Rock Design Co. I wanted to find out more, ever curious I am.
Susan has a rich family history on Martha’s Vineyard, and wanted to do something to support this important community. She has a background in technology and computers, but after having two boys who love MV too, she wanted to do some good, make a difference.
What Is Tisbury Turkey?
Tisbury Turkey launched in 2013 as a way for Islanders, and Summer residents, visitors, and anyone who holds a special place in their heart for Martha’s Vineyard, as a way to give back to the Island anytime they made a purchase at a number of online retailers.
Online retailers pay a commission to other sites that advertise their site. Hear’s an example. If you’re on Google searching away and you see an add for Target and click on it, Google makes money. Here’s where Tisbury Turkey comes in.
If you start on Tisbury Turkey and click the link from the site, the commission is paid to Tisbury Turkey, which in turn writes a check for a Martha’s Vineyard non-profit.
What you might say? Yup, it’s that easy. You click on Amazon (sorry to use this example) through Tisbury Turkey, shop as you wood, for items NOT available on the Island, pay as you would, and 5% of your purchase comes back to the community.
I myself can’t believe how easy this is. What a no-brainer. I love that it’s that easy to make a difference. Retailers and services average between 5% – 7% return to Tisbury Turkey.
There are a number of participants Tisbury Turkey that you can shop through if you need to, including Best Buy, Target, Tea Collection, Julep and more. How about Orbitz and booking your school vacation travel?
You most likely need to book through a website. Now you can give back to the Island while getting away from the Island, a double good thing.
Tisbury Turkey & MV Non-Profits
Tisbury Turkey has quarterly “campaigns” to promote the non-profit. So, there are four different non-profits that benefit from it per year. Some of past campaigns include Featherstone Center for the Arts, American Heroes Saltwater Challenge, Women Empowered MV, and Friends of Family Planning.
Currently, the Winter non-profit is the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard. I was curious about the The Spring non-profit, but Susan would’t even give a hint.
These non-profits have the potential to get a good amount of money just by people on and off Island shopping. Speaking of off-Island, Tisbury Turkey is a great way for MV lovers who don’t live her to give back. They simply start at the site and shop.
If the 100,000 plus people that visit here yearly did that, think of the money we could bring back here instead of giving to other internet companies. I love it, and how excited was my mom to find this out.
Another Way to Support Martha’s Vineyard
Last Summer, Susan had a Tisbury Turkey booth at the Flea at Featherstone. There, she met a number of Island artists. An idea came to her which is quite clever.
Are you a fan of Bark Box or Birch Box, which are subscriptions that come to your house filled with goodies that surprise? You have no idea what might come, which is the most fun part.
Well, how about a Vineyard Seasons GOODBOX Subscription from Tisbury Turkey? Each season you can enjoy a selection of Vineyard goods.
Each box, hand packed, will contain a new assortment gift and food items from favorite Vineyard purveyors like Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt, So Free Soaps, Martha’s Vineyard Honey Company, and more.
You can sign yourself or someone you love up for up for one, two, or four seasons! It’s $39.99 per box, plus shipping. What a treat for people who love Martha’s Vineyard. What a special surprise to get in the mail.
The box Susan showed me had a beautiful, fragrant Goat Milk Soap with woolen washcloth from Flat Point Farm, a hand-painted Gratitude Stone from Washington Ledesma, a Tisbury Turkey Oscar mug and more, all packaged simply and perfectly.
The GOODBOX is a great way for Island artists to sell their crafts year round and market themselves – such a clever idea on Tisbury Turkey’s part and a great gift idea!
Why The Name Tisbury Turkey?
So, the name says absolutely nothing about shopping, artists or non-profits, but the name could be nothing else.
Susan’s grandfather was an immigrant from the Azores. He and her grandmother settled on Martha’s Vineyard. They worked for a wealthy family in Edgartown, the Burke family.
Oscar Burke (hence the Oscar mug) asked her grandfather, to create a turkey farm (Oscar’s wife wanted turkeys). So he did just that, and it was called the Original Vineyard Turkey.
This farm raised tens of thousands of turkeys which were shipped all over the place from the Island. Susan’s grandparents actually ended up buying the farm from the Burke family.
The smokehouse from the farm still exists today and can be found at Susan’s aunt’s house near WMVY radio.
The 1940’s letterhead was the inspiration for the Tisbury Turkey logo and of course the turkey has significance to Susan. However the wild turkey was used for the image instead of the fat white turkeys, too much of a relationship to Thanksgiving. Also, I bet there are some of the Tisbury Turkey genes in the wild ones.
So, that’s what Tisbury Turkey is about. I am not suggesting people shop off-Island, but perhaps encouraging people who don’t live here year round and shop, to help bring money back to the Vineyard community. It’s important for us who live here to support our local businesses and our community. Our way of life year round depends on it.
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