Thursday, September 1, 2011

The World's Longest Yard Sale-Part Two {finally!}


We set out for the WLYS bright and shining early (4 pm) on Wednesday.  We drove from Greensboro, NC to Chattanooga, TN.  It was fun and uneventful, save the terrific lightning storm we encountered in Knoxville.  There were bolts connecting with the road straight in front of us.  Very exciting/worrisome.

We arrived at our hotel around 1 am and fell into bed.  Our goal this trip was not to wake up with the chickens and hit every sale first but to enjoy ourselves.  So we languidly began our day at the Cracker Barrel around 9:30.  We visited about half the Cracker Barrels in the South, I think.  It's part of the experience.

(Apparently, while in Cracker Barrel, one must attempt to never make eye contact.)

From there we wound our way south along the route and let me tell you, it was confusing!

The only directions I could find online were heading North from Gadsden, so we had to reverse them and hope for the best.  It did work out in the end but like I said before, I think we'll skip this leg of the route next time. 

That being said, here is the route heading south from Chatanooga to Gadsden:

127 becomes 27
Take 27 to 157
turn left on 189
turn left on 136
turn rigth on 157
turn right on 48
48 becomes 117
turn left on 89
89 becomes 176

The scenery going over Lookout Mountain was beautiful.  One of the highlights of the day wasn't an amazing sale, but rather, when we stopped at a log home up in the rocky, wooded hills of north-west Georgia and chatted with a couple ladies sitting on the steps of their porch.  One was wrapping scrap fabric around a wire frame, making some cool shabby chic piece and the other lady let us use her bathroom and answered our questions.  It just cemented in our minds the difference between California and the south.  They were open to setting aside any agenda or stranger fears to get to know us and chat.  They were warm and friendly even though we weren't buying anything from their sale.

Then there was the estate sale in the tiny old house tucked into the woods.  I couldn't stay inside long or I would have hurled.  It was rank with moth balls and cigarette smoke.  So much so that when we were all back in the car, bathing in sanitizer, I said Well, I know why she died.  And yet, my mom bought sewing notions and fabric there.  We made her put it in the trailer.  Thankfully, the stink did leave after she washed it.

We did hit an amazing barn sale further off the beaten path.  It was a gem.  I scored two vintage table cloths, old alphabet blocks in my baby's name letters, tiny wooden german figures, a tin wind-up birdie, and a couple old glass bottles and blue Ball jars.  The Jennies found some really awesome stuff like hobnail milk glass wall sconces, a wooden tiered table top tray, vintage linens, bottles and blue glass Ball jars.  And Jenny got a digital embroidery machine.

I desperately wanted one of these vintage metal dollhouses!  They were priced at around $20!  Couldn't fit them in the suitcase home though!

This was the blue glass Ball jar trip for Jenny and I.  We snapped up over twenty of them all together.  You just can't find them here in SoCal and when you do, expect to pay an arm and a leg.  And Jenny, she just likes to copy me.  No, not really.  Yes, really.

Jenni was able to score some old blue glass electrical insulators and drift wood type knots.  Jenni was not only shopping for herself but for the furniture showroom she is helping open.  Both the Jennies were able to score some sweet furniture and larger pieces on this trip while my mom and I had to limit our purchases to what we could take back on the plane with us.  We both had big suitcases and planned on checking a box as well.  There are weight restrictions though and we had the baggage charges looming over our heads already.  Next time, I'm bringing my giant suitcase and like two outfits. ;)

We stopped at a field sale and found some cute stuff and I had my first run-in with a WLYS port-a-potty.  *shiver* I don't recommend doing this sale at seven months pregnant.  I had to use waayy more of these facilities than the other girls.

We navigated one set of switchbacks, with a trailer mind you, no less than five times because we had to leave the mountain for gas and then go back for a sale and then leave for food and then go back for another sale and then finally leave to get to the highway.  On my phone's map it looked like a squashed "z".

We called it a day when we hit the Hwy 59.  Something I tried to curb myself of while in the south was referring to freeways and highways as "The --", like as in "The 59 North".  That's just how we say it in SoCal and in the South it gets quizzical looks and confusion.  So, I had to verbally cross out "the" every time I gave directions to the driver (being the navigator).  We headed back to Chattanooga and showered and hopped into bed.

(Mom took this from Jenny's car after we picked the trailer up)

One thing I haven't mentioned yet is the trailer...and the fact that none of us really knew much about driving with a trailer...specifically how to back up.  We did what any self respecting southern ladies would do.  We avoided getting into situations where we would have to back up and when it was impossible, asked a nearby gentleman to do it for us.  Good thing we're so cute.  We decided that before our next WLYS we all have to take a course in driving with a trailer.

The next day we started with a meal at Cracker Barrel, where we met two nice girls from Atlanta doing the WLYS too. We had seen them at a sale the day before and briefly chatted.  They had traveled north from Gadsden and been rained out of a lot of sales. We then headed north up Signal Hill.  We had been warned about Signal Hill.  It's a hotbed of booth and tent sales, crawling with that WLYS dreaded vermin, The Dealer. 

A word about Dealers.  These people come to the sale, many every year, to sell whatever items they feel aren't moving quickly in their stores or businesses.  They tend to charge retail prices and aren't as flexible in negotiating, but they have good stuff.  It all depends on what your MO is in doing the sale.  Are you out to find specific pieces to round out a collection or are you treasure hunting for good deals.  If it's the former, you may want to give the dealers a chance.  They may have what you are looking for and though they will be higher priced than the garage sale next to their booth, their prices will most likely be lower or more flexible than in an antique store or online auction.  If your MO is the latter than you may want to drive past these sales (hint: look for professionally printed signs and banners that read "Antiques" to spot them) rather than have your bargain hunting sensibilities hurt by their prices.

There are two types of dealers.  Those who don't want to haul all their stuff home and understand that they are participating in what is essentially a Yard Sale, and those that are stubborn and waiting for that one gullible customer with deep pockets.  In dealing with either, don't be afraid to haggle.  You are not in their shop, they are at your Yard Sale.  If they don't like it, too bad.  You can walk away and they can wait for someone else who is willing to pay retail in the middle of a dirt lot with sweat dripping down their back.  If it happens to be the first kind of dealer, they will be willing to barter with you.  Again, probably not as low as the gal in her driveway or the guy who opened up his pappy's barn down the road, but still good pieces for less than retail.

When we approached a sale we couldn't clearly see, such as one inside a tent or back down a long driveway, we would send a spotter to check it out.  If it looked good we'd park and head out, if not we'd jump back on the road and waste less time.  We found that if we all got out for a sale, whether or not there was good stuff, we tended to stay longer just to justify the effort of parking the trailer!

Yard Sale traffic on Signal Hill

We found some nice stuff on Signal Hill, a few items of clothing, a really nice pack n' play, I got a Bumbo seat and a papizan bouncer for the bubs (though the bouncer ended up staying with Aunt Jenny as it wouldn't fit into my suitcase).  But the real treasure was found off the hill.  The homes and the scenery were worth it to me, even if there was traffic.  It was beautiful.

This house was our favorite on Signal Hill.  It was covered in hanging baskets of impatiens.

We drove down into Dunlap, a quaint town totally overrun by the sale.  It was AWESOME.  Every front yard had a sale and the prices were very good.  The wares were great.  We found some of our best items here.

I got the only jadite pieces of the trip here.  It just wasn't to be had anywhere else or it was way overpriced in a dealer's booth.  I scored some ball jars, baby clothes and books too.  But the Jennies got the most amazing steals.  Jenni bought an old, wooden architectural salvage pillar, a leaded glass window and a gorgeous antique arts and crafts hall tree.  Jenny found a turquoise coffee table and matching pink side table, picket planter and curly wall shelf.  Jenny also got a whole lot of blue Ball jars for a steal.  I know they got other smalls too but it's hard to remember everything!

Did I mention the amazing unpacking and repacking job we (read: the Jennies) had to do everytime we bought another large item?

We did a few other tent sales and ended up running into the two gals from Atlanta at one of them.  Jenni also found two big salvaged corbels for the showroom, Mom found a button-holer (an item she's been searching for for years!), Jenny got more glass jars and I found a cute Alice and Jerry reader and some architectural smalls.

We had to drive on to Danville, KY then, as it was still quite a ways away.  It was really sad to miss such a good, meaty chunk of the sale, probably the best portion, having to drive through Crossville and Jamestown at night.  I also don't recommend doing this portion of Hwy 127 after dark!  It was a bit treacherous.  And our driver, Jenny, had to be kept alert.  So, I read to her from old website forums about her embroidery machine and where she could find the cartridges for it since it's no longer sold in stores.  It was arduous.  I sat watching our route on my maps app on my iphone, warning her when a particularly twisty bit of road was coming and encouraging her that it would straighten out soon.  We made it though!  And we were ushered into Kentucky culture with the entrance into the smoke-filled hotel lobby.  This was a Best Western, mind you, and our room was non-smoking, but the whole place wreaked of smoke.  My pajamas that I slept in there smelled smokey the next night.  When travelling in Kentucky be prepared for smoke-filled places.

By far, Tennessee was our favorite part of the sale route.  I would like to do Tennessee exclusively next time.

Next post: Kentucky!


  1. Wow, I had no idea how hard core this trip was going to be. You got some great finds.

  2. Let's do it again!!! Good, informative post, Bit. xoxo

  3. Sounds like you had quite an adventure! And to think, I got to stay home for the full duration of it. What a lucky guy am I!


  4. So awesome y'all did this!! HATE that you were in my "old" neck of the woods and I just missed you!