The 127 Corridor Sale is the Olympics of yard saling. People train for years, without realizing it, by waking up early every Saturday to scavenge through stranger’s junk and by helping friends clean out their attics for nothing more than the hope that they might walk away with something cool, free and covered in dust.
Spanning five days, over 650 miles and conducted for four straight days, the 127 Corridor Sale, is the world’s longest yard sale. The official map starts in Gadsden, Ala. about 300 miles north of Pensacola, and goes all the way through Tennessee and Kentucky to Addison, Mich. The official headquarters for the sale is located in Jamestown, Tenn.
If you’re wanting to take a road trip, but lack the commitment to plan for a cross country drive, start small and try the yard sale route. You can see the sights and buy cool inexpensive things.
“People are looking for one thing—actually many things—but the main thing is to shop,” Tourism Membership Director of Fentress County, Tenn., Leann Smith said. “Even if you’re not an avid yard saler, it’s still really cool to see the mass of stuff that is brought out each year.”
Thousands of vendors come to sell their stuff by the side of the road, in parking lots, and outside of homes scattered along the highway. This year will be the 25th anniversary for the sale, and will most likely be the busiest and best yet. There are even cookouts and designated stops along the way for shoppers to socialize, connect and relax on their long thrifty journey.
“We have a big bluegrass jamboree here in Jamestown, but all the towns really have their own little things going on, BBQs and whatnot,” Smith said.
The idea for the sale came about in 1987. A county executive in Tennessee thought that it was important to show that the back roads of all the small towns in the surrounding areas were still important and still had something to offer the community. The idea spread to Kentucky and Alabama, and grew from 350 miles at first, to the 690 miles it is now.
“I’ve seen a number of crazy things, I’ve seen a number of beautiful things,” Smith said. “The 127 Corridor Sale is quite the experience.”
Local antique storeowner and expert yard saler Carla Massey has ventured up to the sale for the past six years. She picks through sales and brings her finds back to her store, Massey’s Hog Heaven Antiques, located off Davis Highway.
“It is fun,” Massey said. “But it is hot. Make sure you wear shoes you can walk in too, because there is a lot of walking.”
Massey said the traffic is very slow moving for the first few days of the sale, but the vendors are all set up very close and one after another, so even though it’s tedious, there is a lot to look through to pass the time.
“My husband and I usually start in Gadsden, Ala., and then we work our way up through Tennessee,” Massey said. “Once you get up into Tennessee, you usually park on one side of a mountain, and then the vendors are set up across the street on the other side.”
In the years Massey has been going to the sale, the vendors have become more plentiful, but the prices have also risen, especially with television shows like “American Pickers,” “Antique Road Show” and the latest, “Picked Off.”
“The antique business has gotten really competitive in the past few years,” Massey said. “You used to be able to buy stuff for pennies on the dollar, but now everyone knows what circa something is, or who made it and where it came from—it’s still fun though!”
If you can’t make it to the epically big 127 Corridor Sale, you can still take advantage of some great sales happening closer to home.
Coming up in September is the second annual Flea Across Florida. Similar to the The 127 Corridor Sale, Flea Across Florida is a 272 mile yard sale that stretches from Live Oak to Pensacola. So if you aren’t up for making the pilgrimage to the 127 Corridor Sale, maybe this Florida sale is a good place to start.
Marathon yard sales aren’t the only way to get your treasure hunting fix. Don’t forget about your average Saturday morning sales that happen just about everywhere. Some of the best Pensacola neighborhoods for yard saling are East Hill and North Hill. The houses are big and old and can hold a lot of stuff, and people just seem to fill them up, only to empty them again with a sale or two.
Sales are scattered all through the grid that is East Hill and North Hill, but two streets that always seem to be bursting with signage are 17th and 12th Avenue, at the intersection of Cervantes Street. If you start at 17th and work your way to 12th, you’ll probably see more signs than you can handle.
Also, most churches have a few annual sales each year, which involve lots of people all bringing their stuff to one, usually air conditioned location. In this summer, this is a yard saler’s dream. Many church sales are often double booked as bake sales, and you can’t go wrong with a fresh brownie and cheap finds. Churches will usually advertise a month or so in advance for a sale they are having, so set a reminder on your phone or bust out the old pen and paper and make yourself a note. The church yard sales are usually amazing because of the large variety of people bringing in items. And there is usually so much stuff there that it’s customary to fill a bag for a set price.
Surprisingly, many people still place ads in daily papers for their sale. The night before, it’s definitely worth it to take a peak at craigslist.com and the PNJ’s classified sections. Most of the time, looking for signs is a surefire way to score a good sale, but every now and then, it pays to look in the paper, especially if you see something mentioned at a sale that you know you want to look at.
Although estate sales are usually quite a bit pricier, they shouldn’t be ruled out. Most companies that conduct the sales have a mailing list that you can join which will allow you to view merchandise before driving to a home. Most estate sales reduce their price each day they are open by a percentage, with the last day being something like 75 percent off all that’s remaining. So, although they are a little more expensive, you can use to the Internet to look first, and then plan your visit on a day when everything is discounted.
Helpful hints and tips for the saler who wakes after 7 a.m. but still wants the good stuff.
Although most people know the basic tips for yard sale success (get an early start, bring cash), they’re easy to overlook sometimes. Here are a few reminders of their importance in case you’re thinking of embarking on the 127 Sale or just want a less stressful Saturday excursion around town.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Trip to the ATM
It seems obvious to make sure and bring cash to a yard sale, but it’s important to bring enough cash. It’s easy to run out of the house with $5 in ones and a couple of quarters thinking, “Oh well, it just means I’ll have to be good and not spend too much.” Next thing you know, you’re speeding to an ATM, praying the old lady back at the sale believes you’re really coming back for that wingback office chair.
No Diggity Sometimes Equals No Excitement
Sometimes everyone else is too impatient, too hot, or too distracted to look through the entire box of romance novels, only to find the first edition Mark Twain or the old illustrated “Alice in Wonderland” waiting at the bottom. The shriek of excitement from the person whose journey to the bottom of the box was not in vain is something everyone needs to experience at least once. And you can’t do that if you don’t dig.
Haggle Like it’s Your Birthday
Maybe you can’t justify spending $20 on a necklace or $100 on a couch. Maybe you know you’ve seen it cheaper at another sale. Maybe you just really like to haggle. Either way, make an offer. Make it reasonable. It’s always a little scary to offer someone less money than they’re asking for their stuff when you’re standing in their yard, however, a little bartering can be fun, and most of the time, is expected. If they start explaining why it’s awesome, you can point out why it isn’t. Most people will take some kind of deal. Of course, there is always that one person who thinks that Jesus personally put his stamp of approval on everything they own, and they just can’t be haggled.
Know Your Stuff
If you’re looking for something in particular like a desk or a style of clothing, do a little research online beforehand. Look up brands and styles so you’ll be able to spot a gem before you step out of the car. Also, if someone won’t haggle with you, and you know it’s a good brand or a good style, it might be worth buying instead of cursing at yourself later when you see the same item on Etsy for four times the price. Plus shipping.
Ghandi Out and Open Your Mind
Every now and then, things just need a little altering to be perfect. Slap a coat of paint on a dresser or switch out some old hardware for something new and you have exactly the look you want. If you’re moving and looking for furniture, try and imagine things with different color paint or a shelf taken out. Even if a sweater needs an extra button or the hem on a dress needs to be shortened, the effort might be worth it if it’s something you only paid a $1 for. Keep an open mind and you’ll be amazed at what you’re able to turn things into. It will almost always end up being cheaper than what you’d find in a store, and this way it’s been exactly customized to your keen specifications.
THE 127 CORRIDOR SALE
WHEN: Thursday, Aug. 2 to Sunday, Aug. 5
WHERE: Starts in Gadsden, Ala. and goes to Addison, Mich. (Road 127, and other smaller roads. Total distance of 690 miles.)
COST: Gas money and whatever you bring to shop with
DETAILS: 127sale.com for an official map, tips, and photos.
FLEA ACROSS FLORIDA
WHEN: Friday Sept. 14 to Sunday, Sept. 16
WHERE: Starts in Live Oak, Fl and goes to Pensacola (along Hwy. 90. Total distance 272 miles)
COST: Gas money and whatever you bring to shop with