Mismatched chairs. Pinterest projects. Wringer washers. Tin advertising. Classic vehicles. One-of-a-kind fill-in-the-blanks.
It’s out there in someone’s yard, just waiting for you. It’s time for an adventure.
Ohio is the place to be in August, as two major yard sale events intersect. The Lincoln Highway Buy-Way and the 127 Corridor Sale are both right in our neighborhood and not to be missed. Even if you’re not sure you’re a yard sale person.
Now in its 12th year, the Lincoln Highway Buy-Way was proposed by the Ohio Lincoln Highway byway leadership.
Mike Hocker, director of the Ohio Lincoln Highway Historic Byway, wasn’t convinced. He wasn’t sure a yard sale shopper would give a hoot about what road he happens to be traveling on while he’s picking.
“I didn’t think it would be a big deal … but actually I am very happy to say that I changed my mind,” he said, laughing.
“People from all walks of life are taking off vacations, coming from all over the United States, filling RVs with yard sale finds and friends and driving across the state and having a good time.
It’s more than just buying what’s on sale, it’s actually having a fun event that people can take part in.”
While the Lincoln Highway — as America’s first coast-to-coast modern road — extends across the nation, the Buy-Way activity is mainly focused in Ohio, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska, Hocker said.
“My wife and I every year drive the yard sales and count the sales,” he said. Last year, they counted 1,379 yard sales in the state.
The group prints 30,000 guide maps every year, distributing them by hand the week before the sale. Check out libraries, chambers of commerce, local restaurants — or visit www.historicbyway.com to find a list of where to find it in your area, he said.
Eager to sell a few things? Go for it.
“As long as you’re on the Lincoln Highway, by all means, come out and play,” he said, laughing.
Lincoln Highway crosses U.S. 127 in Van Wert. Hocker’s group reached out to the 127 Corridor folks, encouraging them to expand more north than Cincinnati.
“Van Wert just smiles all the way to the bank with that,” he said. “It is a crazy place to be for three days in August.”
There were several years when the sales were concurrent, but they’re not this year.
“We have people grousing because they’re separate weeks, and we have people grousing because they’re the same week,” he said. It all depends on if you want to be “stuck” at your booth and miss out on shopping for yourself.
The 127 sale is always four days starting the first Thursday of August. It dates from 1987, the brainchild of a Fentress County, Tennessee, leader who wanted to draw traffic off the interstates onto rural roads so people could get a better taste of the region.
Leann Smith is the executive director of the Fentress County Chamber of Commerce. Her phone rings all year round, but it picks up pretty heavily in January as people are planning their vacations and looking for information.
And yet, she doesn’t sound one bit harried.
“This is kind of what I kind of consider our side gig during the summer — a demanding one,” she said with a smile in her voice. “People plan their vacations around this. There’s so many areas in the nation that can access the route.”
While the original mission — get people off the interstates — certainly worked, Smith said it’s become multi-faceted from there. HGTV has featured it, which increased its popularity, and the trend toward repurposing items has also allowed people to cash in.
“The resurgence of people looking for interesting items. It’s not necessarily about getting something you need … it’s something you want,” Smith said. (And yes, she will make time to slip away from the office and shop her favorite vendors.) “If you’re interested in unique, hard to find items, things that you’re not going to see in a store, this is the place to come because you’re going to find everything.”
The Fentress County Chamber of Commerce, as headquarters and place of birth, publishes a map of the route. That’s available on its website. It’s been a difficult task to keep up with, as the sale grows very naturally and without a lot of organization help. It spread north into Ohio about 10 years ago, she believes.
“We’re fortunate all of the communities along the route, they take great ownership of the event,” Smith said.
Joyce Randall, who laughs as she calls herself a media specialist, operates Mountain Glen RV Park and www.127yardsale.com in Pikeville, Tennessee, with her family. The Randalls — who have lived various places across the country — opened the campground in 2007, eager to live in a more rural area. It’s just nine miles from 127.
“And it was then that we found out about the yard sale and attended and thought it was pretty fascinating, the more we learned about it,” she said.
Their customers were asking them lots of questions they couldn’t answer. So the Randalls investigated, at first to simply offer good customer service. In the end, they realized they had amassed so much information that they could be a clearinghouse of sorts and started their website.
“There are some people who do the yard sale because they actually do it to hunt for things,” she said. “And then there are people who have a complete curiosity about what the whole thing is about.
“It’s fun; it’s unique. It’s just the whole nostalgia aspect of it is just really meaningful to people,” Randall said. “People are really looking to get away. People are so stressed out. It’s highway 127. You just start driving.”
Reach Adrienne McGee Sterrett at 567-242-0510.
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