ACT TWO Second Hand Store
Supporting Arts and Education on the Vineyard
By Tessa Permar
Like the center of a spoked wheel, Act Two Second Hand Store on Martha’s Vineyard serves as a hub for Islanders to practice generosity, discovery, and support. Located at 66 Main Street in the center of Tisbury’s busiest street, Act Two is a secondhand shop built to serve and delight all kinds of Islanders and visitors alike. Founders Alissa and Andrew Keenan with Kevin and Joanne Ryan have designed an upscale shopping experience that allows people to re-home previously owned goods. And that’s only half of their mission. Act Two uses the funds from sales to support live theater and arts organizations across the Island.
You may recognize Kevin’s and Alissa’s friendly faces from the MV Boys & Girls Club Second Hand Store, where they both worked for years. Ryan retired from the MVBGC in 2019. Additionally, Alissa runs MV Baby Rent, a local business that provides high quality baby and beach items for rent. Kevin is the Artistic Director of Island Theatre Workshop (ITW), a non-profit dedicated to theater education and productions of full-scale musicals featuring local talent. While working together Kevin would discuss with Alissa the excitement of putting on these remarkable shows, and the challenges of funding them. Kevin wondered if he could bring together a secondhand shop as a means of supporting ITW’s community projects. He shares, “The more we talked, the more it became clear, there are so many Island Theatre Workshops.” In late 2019, Kevin and his wife Joanne, and Alissa and her husband Andrew, assembled and agreed to pursue this vision. Seeded with their own funds, they decided to create a secondhand store that would support local live-arts organizations. And then the pandemic hit.
Alyssa and Kevin met the dual challenges of COVID and finding a location with dogged patience. After two different locations fell through, a chance meeting with the owners of another Main Street business proved to be serendipitous. Ryan and Keenan were referred to the real estate owners of 66 Main. In 2021, Act Two became a licensed non-profit and received a remarkable donation of inventory from Frank Folts, owner of Sun Dog Men’s Store, whose shop had closed. Act Two opened its doors on March 14, 2022, to welcome visitors into their two room second hand store with cookies and hot coffee.
Since that day, they have kept busy. Act Two receives scheduled drop off donations of clothing, furniture, home goods, and more. They also receive calls from people moving houses and families who are looking to donate entire estates. Though it’s a rugged and physical job at times, Kevin, Alissa, and the other staff and volunteers take joy in the process of re-homing items. “We’ll get a dining table,” describes Kevin. “And I always sit at one end of the table, just put my hands on it. [I think about] funerals, christenings, weddings, how many thousand times has someone put their hands right here on these spots.” While they shy away from being called a boutique, the goods on display are thoughtfully chosen, arranged, and rotated. The team is determined not to see anything go to waste. “We repurpose and resell clothing that for years would end up in the landfill,” Alissa explains.
“We try to make it so that we’re almost zero trash.” She uses her connections with the Red Cross to make frequent donations of items they can’t sell.
With care and warmth, Act Two caters to the entire range of people on Martha’s Vineyard, from those in the most need, to locals looking for something special, to day-trippers, to people looking to furnish a new home. “We wanted to create a community center where people could come in and not necessarily shop, buy, or donate anything but just come in and hang out,” expresses Alissa. While offering stunning vintage pieces to keen-eyed shoppers, Act Two also serves individuals who are most vulnerable. Since they have been open, they have received the occasional call about someone recently evicted or without ample clothing. In those instances, they have quietly welcomed that person into the shop and encouraged them to take as many clothing items as they can comfortably wear, and when departing are offered to share via brown bag lunch. Act Two also opens their doors to folks who are completing required community service. It’s in this work that the owners of Act Two reveal their commitment to a space that encourages dignity and second chances. All visitors to the shop get an opportunity to make a new choice, whether it’s a new jacket or a new way of seeing the world.
Since opening, Act Two has gifted about $38,000. While they don’t support capital expenses, they provide a simple and accessible way for performing arts organizations to make an ask: “All you have to do is apply with an email or letter,” and show non-profit status. Recently gifts from Act Two have sponsored a new set of handbells for the West Tisbury Hand Bell Choir, costume and production costs for ITW, Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, MV Public Charter School, and the MV High School music department’s custom built upright bass. As Alyssa summarizes, “it’s an investment in our community.”
“We are a place that is trying to provide funding to keep arts alive and thriving,” agrees Kevin. “We are so very grateful for all involved: donors patrons, staff, volunteers, and supporters of the arts.” Folks can support Act Two Second Hand Store through purchases, donations of goods or funds, or by helping out as a volunteer.
Drop in to see their beautiful displays or visit their website: acttwosecondhandstore.org