The world’s longest yard sale officially starts next Thursday and I am excited. This will be our fifth year and it is an event I look forward to every year.
I have yet to make it the entire route. I always start at the beginning in Gadsden, Alabama and I go just as far as I can, which for me is through Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and the southern portion of Kentucky. I hear there are great sales in northern Kentucky and throughout Ohio and not too many in Michigan. I try to take my children with me for at least part of the trip, but they definitely get tired of the hot weather and frequent stops long before I do.
This year my shopping schedule is going to be different. My children will be attending a new school this year and my youngest has her open house next Thursday and my oldest has hers next Friday…..DURING THE WORLD’S LONGEST YARD SALE!! Logistically it just isn’t going to work to take them with me this year and I will actually be going twice. I am planning on getting up super, super early on Thursday and heading over to Gadsden, Alabama with a friend and shopping as much as we can until about 3:00 pm (Georgia time) and then coming back in time for open house. The next day we will get up early and go to the second open house and then I will leave around 10:00 am and head to Tennessee. What were these schools thinking, scheduling open house during the sale??? LOL. Oh well, I hate that my girls can’t go with me this year but hopefully we can make it work next year.
This picture was taken when we took a detour along the way to tour Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I always try to include some fun side trips when my children are with me. We had a great time seeing the caves and hiking in Kentucky.
But back to tips and strategies.
I think planning is the most important thing you can do to prepare for the sale. There are several Facebook groups out there that are dedicated to the World’s Longest Yard Sale. I think I am member of several of them. These groups are great resources for finding out which areas will be selling early, which areas to avoid, possible traffic/construction concerns, and just general opinions for where to get the best deals. There is the 127 corridor page, the 127 yard sale page, and U.S. 127 Yard Sale Adventures.
There is also an official World’s Longest Yard Sale site that is very helpful. Did you know that while many people also call the sale the Highway 127 sale because it follows this highway for the majority of the route, the route through Alabama and Georgia actually starts on Tabor Road in Alabama and follows back roads until you get to Tennessee? I didn’t know this the first time I shopped the sale and it took forever to find the starting point! The website has a great map as well as written directions that I highly recommend that you print out and take with you. If nothing else, it just helps give you an idea of how far you have made it and helps you plan your day.
Be sure and check out the forums on the World’s Longest Yard Sale website. You can find answers to many of your questions there, and if you don’t find the answer then you can ask. The people who use that site are very helpful.
Water and Food
Make sure you bring a cooler filled with lots of water. This is big. It gets so hot out there and a lot of the shopping areas do not have any shade. You will get hot and you don’t need to let yourself get dehydrated or you will feel awful. Also bring plenty of snacks. There will be places to eat along the way but you do sometimes hit a long stretch without a lot of food options. Also make sure you pack baby wipes and hand sanitizer because your hands are going to get dirty handling all of the “treasures” along the way.
You can often find some great meals at churches and other local organizations along the route. Many churches sell food and offer clean bathrooms to shoppers. One of our favorite places to stop is Black Creek Volunteer Fire Department. It is located between Gadsden and Mentone, Alabama. They have great barbecue and vegetables and the money goes towards supporting their volunteer fire department.
Make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen and remember to reapply. I would also recommend that you wear a hat. I am not a hat person but I almost always wear one for this sale. Many of the shopping locations are in big open fields with no trees and no shade. You will be out in the sun a lot and you don’t want to get burned your first day and end up miserable for the rest of the trip. I saw quite a few people wearing cooling scarves but I have not tried those myself. My daughter likes to bring a spray fan. I remember one year that it was so hot that by the middle of the day we were picking which sales to stop at based on whether or not they had shade. LOL! You do what you got to do.
Depending on the types of items you are shopping for, you need to make sure you bring plenty of packing material to store your finds. I always start by covering the floor of my van with a thick packing blanket. It protects my van from stains and I can simply remove the blanket at the end of the sale and wash it.
Now that I am shopping primarily for smalls I bring quite a few cardboard boxes. I also bring newspapers, bubble wrap, and grocery store plastic bags to keep my breakables safe. Also bring several tote bags to use as you are walking around the sales. You need to be able to have your hands free. You can fill the bags up with your purchases as you go and leave your hands free and reduce the number of trips back and forth to your car.
One year I found this set of beautiful Wedgwood china in a pattern called Kutani Crane. I definitely needed a lot of packing materials to get this set safely home.
I also recommend using a small, lightweight crossbody purse or a fanny pack for your money, phone, reading glasses, etc. Don’t carry your money in your pocket. It is so easy to reach into your pocket and have the money fall out as you pull your hand out of your pocket. This is a really easy way to lose your money early on your trip. I suggest that you take some of your money with you as you shop and leave some of it in a safe place in your car. And make sure you lock your car every time you leave it, even if you are just walking a short distance away from it. It is very easy to get distracted with all the excitement and commotion of the sale.
I strongly suggest wearing closed-toe shoes. I actually prefer to wear boots. Some of the pastures where you will be shopping may be overgrown with grass and weeds and if you can’t see where you are walking then you don’t know what you might be stepping on. If your shoes aren’t water proof, bring an extra pair in case of rain. You don’t want to spend your day in soggy, stinky shoes. And as I said earlier, wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
Those Yard Sale Signs that Take You Off of the Main Route
You know the ones I am talking about, small or large, they point down a side road and try to lure you off of Hwy 127 to places unknown. All I can say is that it is entirely hit or miss. It is a true gamble. Sometimes I go and sometimes I don’t. You just don’t know what you are going to find. And even though there may be treasures to find off the beaten path, there are just so many sales along the main route that I rarely leave it anymore. You just don’t know if it is going to be one mile off of the main road or ten miles and since there are more sales along the main route than you will ever be able to shop, I say stick with the main route and you will do fine. There are so many sales that you won’t miss the ones on the side streets.
Big Pasture Sales or True Yard Sales
I am an antique dealer and a lot (not all) of what I shop for is to resell. Of course I went into the business because I collect antiques and I enjoy having them in my home. So I still buy things for myself. However, if I stop at a pasture with one hundred plus dealers who are all selling there merchandise for antique store prices, I am not going to buy anything. If you are simply shopping to add a specific collectible to your collection, then this might be the place for you to shop. I can’t make a profit on something that is for sale at full retail price. However, you usually find at least a few vendors in these locations who are either closing their shops or clearing out inventory and are willing to give you a good deal. There are some vendors with fair prices and I will shop with them. I just don’t want to pay high prices for anything at a “yard sale”.
Realize that you are not going to be able to shop at all of the sales. Realistically you might only travel 25 to 50 miles a day and the sale is 690 miles long. Pay attention to the road. Other drivers may be distracted by, well, just about anything. You never know what you will see along the way. Take pictures. Remember to have fun. You might not find that specific item you were looking for but I bet you will see some really cool stuff that you never even realized you wanted. You will definitely have something to talk about when you get home and I bet you will want to go again next year!