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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Banjo does World's Longest Yard Sale 2011

Updated 8/26/11

TRIP RESULTS (images at bottom)
For some odd reason, I woke up about 4 AM on Friday, the weekend of the event.  So, after banging around quietly but enough to ensure the wife was awake, we got ready and left, ate some breakfast along the way, and arrived in Chattanooga TN around 8 AM for the start...only it wasn't because we forgot about the time change - it was really 7:00 AM local time!  We didn't discover our time shift until lunch, when we showed up early, just after the cafe opened along the route.

So we were early, but most places were already open.

After a while, we settled into a pattern that was right for us.

  • We only went to places that had multiple vendors ( a loose term - anyone selling is a vendor).  That meant we skipped all of the 'mom and pop' people in their own yards.  As the day wore on, and we got more and more tired, this was a big win for us.
  • We wanted places with fairly good parking, however, we did pull off to the side of the road a couple of times.
  • There are some sites that have a hundred or more vendors.  Those are pretty convenient, and we liked stopping at those. 
  • We went from Chattanooga north on hwy 127 until we got to I-40, where we left the WLYS at Crosseville and headed west to stay in Cookeville.  We did this because the hotels in Crosseville that normally charged $100 per night had jacked up their prices to $200!  So, by driving about 25 miles or so west, we saved $100.  Plus we had a bigger choice of places to stay as well as eat.
  • We covered about the entire state of TN, from south to north.
  • It's an exhausting but interesting time.
  • We shopped all day Friday; we had intended to do some more on Saturday, but bad weather made us change our mind and drive home.
  • We had a great time, and will probably do it again next year.
So, what did we see, what did we buy?  
There is no limit to what you are going to see.  There's everything imaginable - from commodes to sinks, from doorknobs to hats, from bottles to stills.  If it's ever been made, by anyone, somewhere on this route, it will show up.  The prices are all over the place.  I didn't buy a single thing!  That's very unusual for me.  Some things that I wanted to buy, I didn't want to pay the price.  However, as the day wore on, I began to see that the prices for these things were fairly consistent, so I don't think they were overpriced, just I didn't want to part with my money at that price.  I hoped to pick some up on Saturday, but weather made us cut our trip next year.  My sweet wife Pat bought a few small things - one being a dainty hand fan (the type you wave with your hand) to help stay a little cooler.  I wish they would move this to mid-late September; it was too dang hot!


  • Some vendors will try to take advantage of you.  For instance, we saw many, many cast iron skillets, most for $30-$40 for a 10" skillet.  However, we saw some that had been shined up to look glossy black that were selling for $180!  That vendor travels from show to show, has a complete tent setup, sits back in a rocking chair and waits for suckers to come by.  Everything he had had been shined up, and was 10X what it should have been.  When I see that, I'm not willing to negotiate with a thief or someone trying to take advantage of someone.
  • Shop around a little before buying, seeing other vendors' wares.  There are very few things that only appear at a single vendor.  After a while, you'll begin to notice that things have approached their own value, as you'll see fairly consistent prices from site to site.
  • Friday's aren't the best day to negotiate, but you have the biggest choice.  As the weekend advances, some things will have sold and thus be removed from the sell, but the vendors will be more willing to negotiate on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. For some vendors, this is their best and only chance to sell; keeping it will mean retaining it for another year, or dumping it at a loss, so the closer you get to the end day and time, the more willing they are to negotiate.
  • Common items, where you will see at every site, are the easiest to negotiate.  Don't be quick to buy these.
  • A lot of vendors will pack up and leave by noon Sunday.

We've never been on the World's Longest Yard Sale.  This is an annual event that starts on the first Thursday of August, and runs through the following Sunday, and takes place along hwy US127.  This year, 2011, that means the event will start on Thursday August 4 and run through Sunday August 7.  Here's a Google link for more insight.

We plan on starting our trip in Chattanooga TN, and possibly (but not probably) going to Frankfort KY.

Here's a link to my personal map.  It shows places where we may bail out to head back to Atlanta along I-75.

This is the first time we are actually planning on going; we've missed it every year since hearing about it 5 years ago.

I didn't take a lot of pictures because there was so much, and from a general standpoint, it was all the same....just different stuff.  I took these two pictures at the start, at the same place, just north of Chattanooga.  This will give you some idea of what it was like, but repeated hundreds of times.

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