In my first days as a freshman at the University of Virginia, I was introduced to the “guys in ties, girls in pearls” traditional attire that students were expected to don at the season’s first football game. Frantic to find a set of pearls without visiting one of Charlottesville’s budget-busting boutiques, I called my mom, fashion guru and money-saver extraordinaire. One week later, the pearls arrived. Since then, I’ve received compliments from the most esteemed judges, including my Barney’s-or-bust roommate from Arlington, Va., and my friend’s grandma who once personally addressed Mick Jagger as "Mr. Yagger." Indeed, the pearls are a hit with high society, and it tickles me to know that my mom threw down a mere fifty cents to get them. In early August, there’s only one place where that’s possible.
Beginning Thursday and running through Sunday, the 26th annual World’s Longest Yard Sale spans 690 miles from Addison, Mich., to Gadsden, Ala. Aptly nicknamed the 127 Sale, vendors set up along the Highway 127 corridor to entice buyers with all the classic yard sale merchandise: picture frames, knick-knacks, clothing, accessories, furniture, as well as other handmade goods akin to those at events like The City Flea. It is a celebration of summer cleaning, sharing, bargain hunting and sight-seeing, with notable stops like Big South Fork National River and Pickett State Park.
Started in 1987 with the affirmation that “the back roads have something to offer,” the World’s Longest Yard Sale earned its name after the route began to cross the northwest corner of Georgia, adding another 100 miles to the existing 350-mile span of highway 127. Since then, it has continued to grow, with more than 200 miles of added terrain becoming part of the route.
People come from all over the country and the world to brave the congested traffic conditions and summer swelter with the hopes of finding a hidden local treasure they can take home. Some even travel the entire 690 miles, while others stay within certain pockets of vendors. This year, the World’s Longest Yard Sale runs directly through MainStrasse Village in Covington, a location that includes more than 100 vendors and a Yard Sale Grill where shoppers can fuel up as they continue north, south or home for the evening. It is an event for tourists and locals alike, an opportunity to discover and rediscover the cultural richness of Greater Cincinnati.
The World’s Longest Yard Sale not only rewards shoppers with inexpensive and unique items but also serves to stimulate local economies along the 127 corridor. Hotels fill up, restaurants prosper, and vendors renting space contribute to the local money supply. The sheer volume of shoppers usually results in fully booked hotels by mid-July, but a crowded landscape is considered a small price to pay for even smaller-priced goods and priceless views along the way. Southern hospitality has even led to travelers being taken into private homes if nothing else is available. Some people hope for cancellations, some travel upwards of 50 miles for a place to stay, and some sleep in their cars. But for shoppers, such lack of luxury is a small inconvenience in pursuit of the perfect set of 50-cent pearls.
For more information, visit www.127sale.com.