TV Review: ABC’s “The Great American Tag Sale with Martha Stewart”

Whether you call it a yard sale, garage sale, or estate sale – the tag sale is a familiar activity. They may be prompted by an upcoming move, a simple desire to have less stuff or the need for some additional funds. We often see the homemade signs announcing them as we drive along our neighborhood streets.

Browsing the tag sale offers a glimpse into the owner’s tastes, perhaps even a bit of family history. ABC’s new special The Great American Tag Sale with Martha Stewart kicks off with legendary hostess Martha Stewart. Having recently shut down some offices and sold a home, she’s decided to host a tag sale to raise funds for the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mount Sinai Hospital. She opens up her numerous storage facilities to host an enormous two-day tag sale.

Given the number of items to be sold and the anticipated attendance, it is no surprise that Martha assembles a team of antiques experts and event planners to ensure the sale’s success. The episode heavily features Martha’s stunning expansive farm in New York. As her team assesses items for the event I’m continually floored by just how much she has in storage. I anticipated that someone who has made a career within hospitality would have a wide variety of decor or furniture to ensure any particular setting theme is properly executed, so her plentiful varieties of chairs, textiles, and even plants were not too surprising. However, I didn’t expect her to also be the owner of numerous canoes (which she made clear she did not intend to sell).

It was fun to hear stories of how many of these items came to be in her possession. Seeing someone in her economic position struggle at times with letting things go was relatable and a reminder of how she connected so deeply with her audience through the years. If this program inspires a series, I hope future episodes offer a more intimate view of the sale’s host and more insights into the nitty-gritty of executing an effective garage sale. Given that it was Martha at the helm, I didn't expect the chaos that reality programs typically lean into, and it didn’t appear here, but given this event’s immense scale I left the program feeling there were missed opportunities to give the audience a deeper perspective on how to host a successful tag sale.

The Great American Tag Sale with Martha Stewart airs Wednesday May 25 8/7c on ABC.