Treasures far and wide at the 654 Mile Outdoor Sale

Those “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” definitely describes the Highway 127 corridor from Aug. 6-9.  That’s when a 654-mile yard sale billed as the “World’s Longest Outdoor Sale” will wake up sleepy towns as it meanders from West Unity, Ohio down through central Kentucky and east Tennessee, scurrying through a corner of Georgia and ending in Gadsden, Alabama on the Lookout Mountain Parkway.

“Lazy” refers to the traffic as an estimated half million shoppers jockey for parking places at an estimated 15,000 sales.

“Hazy” is the typical August weather in this region — hot and humid with frequent afternoon thunderstorms.

And “crazy” …. well, that’s the fun part that made it all worthwhile. Anyone who enjoys scurrying for bargains among friendly people and beautiful scenery will find this one of their favorite events.

This tradition has been going on since 1987 when Jamestown, Tennessee’s former County Executive, Mike Walker, thought of it as a way to lure travelers off the interstates. Jamestown, Tennessee partnered with Jamestown, Kentucky and yard sales were advertised along the 40 mile stretch between these two tiny towns. This event has grown as fast as the kudzu vine that invades the south. It’s even been featured on HGTV.  The “new kid on the block” is a strip of 127 which runs through southern Ohio and expands the original 450 mile sale to 654 miles.

Along the mostly two?lane highway  through beautiful countryside, tens of  thousands of folks set up tables and tents in their yards and barns as well as in rented spaces in fields or business lawns. They sell everything from furniture to flow blue, toys to Tupperware, advertising signs to Avon. In certain rural areas with limited places to pull off, shoppers may drive two to three miles between sales. The largest density of sales is between Jamestown, Tennessee and Jamestown, Kentucky where this annual event began.

The biggest dilemma shoppers face is where to stop. Larger clusters of 50?100 dealers seem an obvious choice. They’re the only way to shop if time is of the essence. But at these informal flea markets many dealers have already purchased from each other and this is also where tour buses stop. While there are many good buys at larger sales, many annual shoppers report finding their real bargains  at the individual yard sales.

Top Ten Tips for 654 Mile Outdoor Sale

1. Make motel reservations if you plan to stay overnight. Accommodations along this predominately rural route fill up fast.

2. Allow extra driving time. The two lane roads are hilly and winding, and the volume of traffic often moves at 15 mph.

3. Practice patience and defensive driving. Often many vehicles are jockeying for a few good parking places. Sudden turns without proper turn signals are common.

4. Try the home cooked food. Meals are offered by churches and civic groups. Prices are very reasonable.

5. Wear comfortable shoes. Leave the sandals at home; much of the walking from sale to sale will be through fields or gravel lots. This is no time for a blister or broken show strap.

6. Bring lots of small bills. Don’t forget your own packing materials. Even the best prepared dealers run out of change after thousands of sales.

7. Play like a tourist. There are more than 400 attractions along the route. They are as diverse as the Bicycle Museum in New Bremen, Ohio and  Lake Cumberland State Resort Park with a 50,250 acre lake perfect for fishermen and boaters.

8. You can sell, too. You’re welcome to bring your own inventory to sell. Anyone can set up free in a safe place along the highway right?of?ways on a first?come?first?served basis. Many flea market spots are available on private land for an average price of $10 to $20 per day.

9. If you sell, think like a customer. If you want to sell, quality items in all categories that are fairly priced sell best. Many dealers report that furniture, primitives, jewelry and advertising items are their best sellers. No shoppers are looking for common, chipped, or broken items. New items from wholesalers are quickly passed over because there are dozens of dealers with identical inventories. Used clothing is also difficult to sell.

10. Dress for success. Consider wearing a shirt or cap promoting the Highway 127 sale. Items can be ordered online from the sale Web site: