Maybe I’ve never confessed this before but I’m an expert yard sale-er. Not only do I know how to organizer, promote, and run one so that my stuff moves AND I make money, but I also know how to shop them.
I can do a drive-by and tell you if it’s junk or worth stopping. I can tell you how to negotiate and get a bargain without pissing off whoever is selling the stuff. And I can tell you when to simply walk away. And these skills served me very well over the past few days as I traversed much of what is known as The World’s Longest Yard Sale.
Spanning 690 miles, The World’s Longest Yard Sale, also known as the 127 Yard Sale began in 1987 when a Tennessee county executive planned the event “to encourage travelers to bypass interstate highways such as I-40 and I-75 in favor of scenic routes that would take them through rural communities and allow them to experience what the small towns and cities had to offer.”
Brilliant marketing plan that not only works but provides bargain hunters a veritable dream. If this is on your bucket list, here’s what you need to know.
Plan a starting point and ending point and decide if you’re doing a one way or roundtrip journey.
GMC invited me to spend a few days on the road from Detroit to Atlanta (full story on this coming soon on SheBuysCars.com). My mission was to travel with several other bloggers as we gathered up furnishings for a Habitat for Humanity home in Atlanta.
We drove from Detroit to Bryan, OH, a small town just south of the Ohio Turnpike and a great starting point for the World’s Longest Yard Sale. Our Day 1 trip took us from Ohio to Frankfort, Kentucky. Our Day 2 adventure went from Frankfort to Chattanooga, Tennessee. From there, we went off the path and headed southeast to Atlanta, Georgia.
Our itinerary involved approximate 4-5 hours of driving every day but the stops at the flea markets and yard sales more than doubled our expected travel time.
We met many travelers that either live locally or focus on one particular area or corridor. That’s probably the best way to do it unless you’ve got time and money to burn.
Don’t stop for everything.
This part is soooooo hard. If you like this sort of thing, you will want to stop every 5 minutes or so. It’s just not possible if you actually plan to make some progress along the route. You will have to bypass many many sales and just not think about the potential “one that got away.”
Enjoy the people (and pets)
Finding a deal is enthralling but don’t forget that some of the most awesome finds are the interesting people you meet along the way.
At the start of the sale, most of the people were all business. Don’t try to chit chat. Don’t try to bargain. They are there to make money. But as the sales spread out, you meet the nicest people with the most interesting stories, even if you choose not to buy anything.
But it’s their PETS that usually draw me in. And I got my fill of doggies and kitties along the way.
Take some friends that get you.
This was a sponsored road trip by GMC. And I was number 7 out of 7 bloggers. Everyone paired up with someone and I was forced into the third wheel spot. But fellow bloggers Nancy of Artsy Chicks Rule and Christy of Confessions of a Serial DIYer took me under their wing.
We drove (or rather, I drove) and we stopped and shopped. When we were killing time in the car, we talked, laughed, joked, and sang bad 80s music and they made the journey much more fun.
(I hope you’re making plans for us, Laila!)
Be prepared for the HOT.
Let me put it this way. It’s August. In the South. It’s friggin’ hot. Wear cool clothing, comfortable shoes, and bring a hat, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and deodorant. It’s sweating hot.
Savor the stuff!
You can’t buy it all but nobody said you can’t take pictures of it! I bought three small things for myself, including these vintage salt & pepper shakers (I have a thing for kitschy plastic salt & pepper shakers).
But when I wasn’t shopping for the task at hand (which was furnishing the kitchen and dining room for the Habitat house), I was reliving my childhood and snapping pictures of things that you never even knew existed.
(Click to enlarge)
What a long, strange trip it was. I’m proud and thankful to have been included on this GMC sponsored trip. If invited back, I’d love to spend the time on this fantastic GMC project. But if not, I’ll get my own GMC vehicle, load up some of my bestest girlfriends and hit the dusty trail. Just let me know if you’re in!