Annual ABC Tag Sale gives bang for students’ bucks

This may be one of few occasions during our years at the College about which we can confidently say: If you didn’t set your alarms for 8 a.m. on a Saturday, it was your loss. A few weeks ago, New York celebrated the world-renowned Fashion Week event. This Saturday morning, in its own efforts to influence global trends, Williamstown supported the 21st annual Greylock “A Better Chance” (ABC) tag sale, held in the First Congregational Church.

Students of all ages and members of the local community lined up long before the 9 a.m. start time of the tag sale – which, to those of you still acclimating to Massachusetts lingo, is essentially a giant garage sale.  When we arrived at 9:30 a.m., the line trailed down the block and twisted into the nearby parking lot. Sleepy prospective shoppers energized with hot chocolates and coffees as they stood in line, preparing themselves for the marathon of sorting, trying and buying ahead.

The process of entering the sale, though frustrating to the dozens of impatient, caffeine-fueled customers, was incredibly efficient; new groups were let in exactly as other shoppers leave, keeping the capacity of the church constant. As shoppers enter, they receive a trash bag, a labeled map of the sale, and a list of  prices to streamline the process. As soon as they made it through the doors, the fun (and frenzy) begins.

College students entered the sale with many different goals in mind. (And indeed, the tag sale, with it’s heaps and crowded racks of clothing, is best navigated with a goal in mind.) Celeste Nahas ’17 was focused on finding a Halloween costume, whereas Ben Incera ’18 wanted to “stock up on winter gear which I didn’t have before, since I’m from Miami.” Justin Cho ’18 had one singular goal: finding shower sandals (no questions asked about the last month of barefoot dorm showers).

However, students often happily exited the sale with items they had never even anticipated. Elizabeth Sullivan ’18 discovered the small but mighty “Williams room,” which exclusively sells donated College gear, and purchased a vintage sweatshirt from fellow Sage D entrymates of years past.” Unfortunately, Nahas did not find the costume she was searching for, but instead she came by a sequined shirt, which she bought for only a dollar. Cho also left the sale without his intended purchase of shower sandals (hopefully that will be resolved soon), but he did find a suit jacket and slacks that “exactly matched his measurements.”

Through their frenzied shopping, the College community could not be supporting a better cause. Greylock ABC is affiliated with the national A Better Chance organization, which has been providing opportunities for students of color since 1963. On the ABC website, its stated mission is “to increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color who are capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society.”

The proceeds from this tag sale, however, directly benefit our local ABC branch, located right here in Williamstown. Young scholars are given the chance to attend the ABC regional high school Mount Greylock and to live in its family-style residential house. There they live with fellow students and receive tutoring from College students. There are 311 member schools across the country. Since its founding, A Better Chance has put 14,000 students in these 311 college preparatory schools, and 96 percent of the organization’s graduating seniors will go on to attend college.

Overall, the ABC tag sale was undoubtedly a success. With the wide array of items available for purchase, each student found something that caught his or her eye, whether it was a practical investment, or a purple tutu (sniped by Arielle Rawlings ’18). Shoppers added to their wardrobes without breaking the bank and supported a worthy cause along the way – not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.