Pop Culture Bonanza: 127 Highway Yard Sale



If you love flea markets, yard sales, tag sales, estate sales, antique markets or you just plain love shopping for stuff and finding bargains, the world’s longest yard sale is the place for you. The 127 Highway Yard Sale covers four states, with 450 miles of vendors selling all sorts of stuff. The yard sale is always held the first weekend in August, starting on the first Thursday and lasting until Sunday, but many sellers set up as early as a week before.

The route travels Highway 127, through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. Officially it is known as the 127 Corridor Sale. The yard sale began in 1987 and its official headquarters is in Jamestown, Tenn. It was designed to attract tourists to some of the corridor’s small towns. Local vendors set up tents along Highway 127 and soon after, a tradition and a business was born. If you are starting from the north, the sale begins in Covington, Ky. and from the south the sale begins in Gadsden, Ala.

This event is properly named, as it is a true yard sale. You can expect to find people selling the contents of their home, furniture and new merchandise priced at a discount as well as some antiques sold by professional dealers. Tents are scattered along the highway with some sections having more than one hundred venders. If you are looking for antiques, those dealers tend to assemble together in certain areas along the corridor.

There is no official count of the vendor spaces along the route. You cannot just simply pitch a tent and start selling; if you are interested in becoming a vendor, you need to contact the local Chamber of Commerce in the area for vendor spaces. Many land owners put up signs for vendor spaces; you can see them as you travel the highway. Rates will vary. There are no restrictions for this sale, but a section on the official website of the 127 Corridor (www.127sale.com) reads “Items of all shapes and sizes are sold along the route, and we encourage you to participate. Please note that we strive to make this a sale of antiques and oddities, and DISCOURAGE vendors from selling USED CLOTHING, because it is most often passed over.”

Vendors set up tents on their own schedule and make their own hours. Many sellers sleep in tents or RVs. People start shopping at 7 a.m., so vendors need to be up early!

At first glance, one might be surprised by the amount of stuff there is. The phrase “everything except the kitchen sink” is perfect to describe this yard sale.  Do not expect to find many items over $1000; in fact, you would be hard pressed to find many items above $500. It’s a perfect place to find that vase you need, all types of china and glassware, general household items, collectible items, and tons of random stuff. You might find vintage bottles, old railroad boxes, Coca-Cola™ crates, railroad lanterns, chalkware, jadeware, Fire King, fire house memorabilia, 1950s kitsch, hat pins, head vases, jadeite, Fiestaware, Hull china, McCoy pottery, steins, moon and star glass, milk glass, carpenters planes and tools, farm tools and implements, doorknobs, lights, silverware, glasses, jars and everything else you can imagine.

Remember to consider condition when purchasing. There are many more items in fair to good condition then in mint condition along the corridor.
How do you start planning for this four-day extravaganza? First, make your lodging reservations early. If you are planning to stay in a hotel, plan your route as early as possible because they sell out quickly. It is important to remember that by Saturday, traffic gets heavy and you will not be able to travel as far as you may think, so plan accordingly. It is almost impossible to cover the whole 450 miles in four days.

If you are renting a car, consider the size; you may fill it quickly. Also, if you are flying home, consider how you are going to get all the items that you just filled the car with back home. Some shoppers purchase extra suitcases at the yard sale (which can be found for around $10 each). Others map out local UPS, Fed EX or other shipping stores before they leave home. If you are shipping, consider that cost when you purchase the item. If you buy a Griswold iron stove for $50 but spend over $250 shipping it home, it is no longer a bargain. You may want to bring shipping material with you. Bubble wrap, tape, boxes, towels, newspaper all will come in handy, regardless if you ship the items, drive home or check them with the airlines.

Bring the daily necessities that make your life more pleasant on the 127. There’s the obvious – wear comfortable shoes and light clothing with layers. Pack a cooler with tons of water. It gets VERY hot.  Temperatures range in the 90s and the humidity is often very high. Bring plenty of sunscreen. Pack a rain coat or an umbrella, in case of a thunderstorm. Hand wipes are helpful, as you can get very dirty while shopping. Bring cash, as most venders do not accept credit cards or checks. Remember to include extra cash to cover the cost of food and drinks purchased along the way.

When shopping at the sale, always try to bargain;  hardly anything sells for the asking price. Look for half-price tables. Some say the best finds are in the early morning; others think the best deals are at the end of the day. Sunday is a great day to find bargains because dealers do not want to go home with their items.

Some of the areas more heavily populated with dealers include Frankfort, Harrodsburg, Danville and  Liberty in Kentucky; Jamestown, Clarkrange, Crossville, Dunlap and Pikeville in Tennessee; and Gadsden in Alabama. Frankfort, Ky. and Crossville, Tenn. are nice places to spend the night, with many options for hotels and restaurants.

Shopping the yard sale is definitely an adventure. Have fun. One of the nicest things about the yard sale is meeting the people, both vendors and shoppers. People travel from all over the United States for this event and it truly reflects the great culture of America.