Like many of my coworkers at Subaru of America, Inc., I love to drive. Call it a passion, but piling the family into the car and just driving to see whatever comes down the road is the perfect Sunday afternoon for me. My wife, Michele’s, idea of a perfect drive is to go to the mall, because her passion is shopping for collectibles.
In the past, family vacations usually lasted just a few days and were to kid-friendly destinations with lots of amusement rides, games, restaurants, and gift shops. In August of last year, our first year as empty nesters, Michele and I decided to combine our passions and drive from New Jersey to Tennessee and Kentucky to check out the World’s Longest Yard Sale.
I drove. Michele shopped. Everyone was happy.
The World’s Longest Yard Sale, otherwise known as the 127 Sale, stretches 690 miles along U.S. Highway 127 from Addison, Michigan, to Gadsden, Alabama.
The annual sale started in 1987 in Jamestown, a city of about 2,000 in north-central Tennessee. Jamestown was and still is the heart, soul, and spirit of this massive event.
Leann Smith, tourism and membership director for the Fentress County Chamber of Commerce, explained that the sale started as a way to attract travelers back to the rural communities bypassed when the interstate highways were constructed.
The idea worked. During our three days on Highway 127, we were greeted with bumper-to-bumper cars, trucks, and RVs sauntering through the small cities and towns on the way to the next hidden treasure.
People come from all over the country to both buy and sell at the sale. We counted license plates from 47 different states, and we spoke with dozens of vendors who packed up the overflow from their closets and basements and traveled from as far away as Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Many booked their lodging a year in advance. We were able to reserve a room in centrally located Crossville approximately two months in advance. However, by the time of the sale, all of the hotels within 10 miles of Highway 127 were sold out.