September is right around the corner, which means Epoch Arts in East Hampton will be holding its eighth annual two-weekend mega tag sale soon. The tag sale, which may be more aptly described as a flea market, will begin at 1 p.m. on Friday, September 5th at 27 Skinner St in East Hampton. Trinkets and toys, home goods and electronics, to books, records and so much more will be among the treasures just waiting to be discovered.
The tag sale is an annual fundraiser held by Epoch Arts (pronounced “epic”). A non-profit organization described as an “arts center” by founder Elizabeth Namen, Epoch offers its young participants the opportunity to nourish their artistic and creative skills. Classes such as filmmaking, painting, clay sculpting, crafting, playwriting and production, improvisation and more are offered. There are even supportive groups for at-risk kids.
“Instead of taking [donations] to the Salvation Army or anything like that, just for this time of year, [residents] donate to us,” Namen explains. “It’s just a huge tag sale. It’s a major fundraiser.” Namen, who emphasizes that the tag sale is the largest of any of Epoch’s fundraising efforts, welcomes any donations that residents would like to offer.
Even the items unsold after the sale will be put to charitable use. Many of the items go to Lydia’s Closet, an organization which gives items to those in need in the community. The rest are given to other charitable efforts, such as a Senior Center program that collects stuffed animals and sends them to needy children overseas.
Namen founded the organization eighteen years ago. A resident of Haddam Neck at the time, Namen volunteered at the Haddam Neck Fair. “I always had a slew of kids with me,” she remembers. “I think we were painting upstairs, and we were reminiscing about how my mother used to put plays on there…and I just saw that especially in Haddam Neck, it’s kind of remote, these kids need something. Let’s do something. Let’s put a play on.”
Since then, the organization has continued to grow and thrive, and has had no trouble utilizing the 42,000 square foot warehouse they call home. “We’re busting out,” says Namen. “We need a second theatre, we have plans to for a bigger art department, bring up the recording studio again…we want to do artists’ studios, a café… We have really big dreams that now really seem within reach, like we can touch them.”
“I have a fantastic husband and amazing volunteers and staff,” Namen says. They’re definitely not doing it for the paycheck. They’re doing it because they believe in the mission, they believe in these kids and community, and it’s something so much bigger than just doing art.” Many of the volunteers who organize the tag sale are made up of Namen’s own family, to whom she expresses much gratitude.
Tag sale hours will be September 5th from 1:00 am to 8:00 pm, and September 6th, 7th, 13th and 14th from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Residents interested in donating items to the tag sale may contact Elizabeth Namen at 860-365-0337. For additional information, visit epocharts.org.