PREBLE COUNTY — U.S. 127 was lined with scores of yard sales and garage sales this weekend as part of an annual event stretching from Addison, Michigan to Gadsden, Alabama, a distance of approximately 700 miles.
Dubbed “The World’s Longest Yard Sale,” the event started in Tennessee in 1987, and typically takes place the first Thursday through Sunday in August. The original route stretched from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, Tennessee, but its length has nearly doubled since that time.
Signs advertising everything from vehicles to antiques to vintage children’s books could be seen along the stretch of 127 between Eaton and Greenville over the weekend. Rita Lawrence, of Richmond, Indiana has been participating in the 127 yard sales for the last seven years or so. Lawrence drives from Richmond each year with a motor home full of goods to sell, and said she loves the opportunity to meet people from new and far-away places.
“We had three people from France come through the other day, I kid you not,” Lawrence said during last year’s event. “And two people from Canada the day before that. We’ve had people from Wisconsin, Salt Lake City, Alabama. I enjoy talking to people and asking them where they’re from.”
Blake Duffie, of Eaton — whose store, Mumble-Bear Creations, occupies a barn just north of Eaton, and is open by appointment throughout the year — expressed similar sentiments.
“The people from all over the country who come up 127 for this sale is amazing,” Duffie said. Duffie said he has dealt with customers from Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama on Saturday, as well as bargain hunters from as far north as Ontario, Canada.
Stops along the route consist not only of traditional yard and garage sales, but also tents and tables set up by professional vendors from around the country who rent space from local residents and property owners. Locally, Darke County Steam Threshers in Greenville has offered space for rent, as well as Boulder Belt Eco-Farm in Preble County.
Sharon Morales, of Newark, Ohio, drove about two hours from her home east of Columbus to participate in the event, setting up shop on the front lawn of a relative’s home right across the street from Duffie’s shop. Morales sells Native American-themed clothing, jewelry, and other accessories, including hand-made dreamcatchers, at festivals throughout the state, and hopes to eventually start a year-round business.
“I love people, I love being outside, and I love crafting,” Morales said.
Judy Meyer, who was selling hand-made wreaths, ornamental milk and watering cans, and various other seasonal-themed goods, has similar ambitions.
“I love it, and I’m doing well,” Meyer said. “When I retire, this is what I’m going to do full-time, so I need to get my name out there and get established.”
The event can have its troublesome side as well, however. A police department in Tennessee released a press statement ahead of the sale warning drivers to exercise caution.
“Yard sales will be set up along Highway 127 and some side streets. Deal hunters will be on foot in areas throughout the city. Please slow down and be on the lookout for pedestrians, who may not be looking for you,” the statement reads, in part. “And please consider using alternate routes to travel during the sale.”
Duffie stressed the event wouldn’t be possible without the help of family and friends.
“They’re the ones who put in the hard work,” Duffie said.