Words of late artist Frank Howell...I totally relate!

"There are few days off and no retirement from this entanglement of knowledge, passion and vision that will be molded and converted into creative expression. There are no guarantees of acceptance, understanding or reward, but...the noise inside the mind never ceases. I will paint today, tonight and for as many tomorrows as I am given..." Words of the late artist Frank Howell...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The World's Longest Yard Sale- Our Experience- Part One

The car is unloaded (finally!) and my treasures are unwrapped.  I still have to clean most items before I can put them to use, but that can wait.  I went ahead and took pictures of everything so that I can share what I found, but it's taking a long time to edit the pics, so this is going to be a two  three-part post.  Part one, today, will focus on our trip as a whole, and tomorrow I will share the individual items I found.  Third post will be tips for your trip if you've never experienced The World's Longest Yard Sale before.

This was my second time shopping TWLYS.  The first time, I started at the very beginning (Gadsden) and ended in Mentone, Alabama over two days.  If you look on the map, it's clear that we didn't get very far.  The vendors are crowded all along the way and we were running pretty fast through each stop...So, it is impossible to do the entire route in one weekend. We decided to start this time up above Mentone, spend three days shopping, and then if we had time on the way back down, we could pick up the trail back to Gadsden.  I wanted to shop a different area to see if things were very different from place to place.  

We started out from our Baldwin County, Alabama home on Wednesday and headed north.  I had already mapped out the next four days, and had made reservations for places to stay during the trip. First stop would be at the Holiday Inn Express in Fort Payne, Alabama, which is very near the starting point of the trail in Gadsden.  

About this first stop, let me tell you that hubby and I have traveled extensively, so when I give kudos to a motel/hotel, it really is worth noting. I highly recommend them and will always remember Holiday Inn Express in Fort Payne, Alabama as a good place to stop. Freshly baked cookies were waiting at the door along with yard sale maps and bottles of water to take along on your way out the door for the sale the next morning. The beds were very comfortable, the service was great, and the rooms were so quiet...Now, this could have something to do with the fact that they were fully booked with out-of-town yard sale shoppers, which were mostly around our age and with no children to run up and down the halls and slam doors.  (Please don't yell at me about the children comment...we love children, had three of our own and have grandchildren...but this is not the place for them, in my opinion.  I will explain why later.) We enjoyed a very comfortable and restful night, and that's a good thing, since we hit the trail around 6:00 the next morning.  The "official" breakfast time didn't start until 6:30, but they let us go ahead and get coffee and juice and eat what was out.  We then hit the ground running...

Ready to hit the trail with my map!
As it turned out, this early departure was a mistake.  I remembered the first time I shopped a few years ago, everyone was out and about early and my car was half full by 8:00.  Not this time.  Blue tarps covered every table and booth until well after 8:30, and some were still not open even then.  We should have just slept in...Oh well...  We decided to just drive until we saw people opening their booths. Around 9:00, we started finding people ready for buyers and the traffic started picking up.   Note to self- Sleep in next time...it starts much later now.

The trail sort of winds around in twists and turns through Alabama and Georgia until you get through Chattanooga and actually get on the Hwy 127 corridor. 

I decided (after my first experience) to only stop at the places where large numbers of vendors were gathered...it takes a lot of time to find places to park and to just move along in the traffic. People do a lot of shopping from their car windows which causes them to slow down to a crawl, and then they try to decide if they want to stop or not...this causes problems for those who want to just move on through the area.  People are darting back and forth across the roads and you really need WATCH the road for other cars and people...it's crazy.  This is why I stated earlier that this is no place for children.  It's dangerous, and children slow you down.  You don't want to move slowly in this environment.  You don't know if drivers are actually so busy window shopping that they are paying attention to the other cars and people, or not.  This is unlike anything I've ever seen anywhere....And, I did hear a few sirens from time to time.  I don't know if the damage was done to other vehicles or to people.  

Sometimes you just park along the side of the road...

Other times, there will be a field or dirt lot where signs direct you to park.

That's a bus in the next picture...I saw a few.  There were many cars and trucks pulling trailers...I'm just glad I didn't have to maneuver anything big or long through this traffic nightmare.

It appeared to us that people were sort of just skipping the individual house yard sales, and like us, were stopping at the larger group sales.  This is sort of a shame, since most of these vendors in the large fields and parking lots are professional vendors who travel around as a business...and it is, after all, called "The World's Longest Yard Sale"...These people are not there to offer yard sale prices on their goods.  No, they are very proud of their stuff.  It's what you would find if you went shopping in your local antiques mall.  For me, that's fine.  I would rather not have to look through the children's clothes and toys and coffee mugs to find that illusive treasure.  It's sort of like going to the Rose Bowl sale in Pasadena, California, or Scott's Antique Market in Atlanta.  It's just spread WAY out over hundreds of miles.  Some of the vendors were willing to negotiate on prices, and others were not, so if you are going to the TWLYS looking for yard sale prices, you will be disappointed.  It has evolved into an entirely different animal than what it was in the beginning, so much so that some people don't bother to go anymore.  I will continue to go every three or four years, because as long as I can find things I like, and at a fair (even retail) price,  I'm fine with the experience.  

I was keeping my eyes open for English ironstone pieces...I saw one booth with a collection and their prices were anywhere between $100 and $375 for each piece. When I see prices like that, there is no need to even attempt to negotiate, because they would just be insulted with my offers.  I never saw any more old ironstone anywhere.  This was definitely NOT the booth for pickers...

What did I see?  Lots of old rusty tools (which hubby enjoyed browsing and buying), iron skillets of all sizes, ammo boxes, vintage blue canning jars, and a good variety of depression glass.   There were many booths with new sheet sets, socks, and other stuff that I didn't drive hundreds of miles to purchase.  Some booths were antiques dealers with very attractive booth spaces, and would tell you right as you entered to not pay attention to the prices marked because they were the "antique shop" prices. They were willing to negotiate.  There were also booths with handmade items, and of course I was drawn to these because I LOVE art and things made with love.

Here are some pictures of some of the more interesting things...This first pic features a screen door with a sign that reads "Hippies use back door"...I love it!

This clown used to blow up balloons for kids...

...and this one just stands there and waves.  I think it's Ronald McDonald...

...Rust, Religious Relics and Rat Traps...

Some sparkly things...

...and some chandeliers that needed some sparkly things.

...and other architectural findings...

Wheels and things with wheels...

Vintage toys

...and bits of toys.


Here's hubby shopping...

...and carrying a purchase for me the next day

I kept seeing things that reminded me of Miss Mustard Seed!  I wondered if Marian was out picking...

We were worn out around 4:00 and decided to head on over to our room for the night.  We were in Tennessee and had made it just about as far as I had anticipated, so we were on track with the itinerary that I had outlined.  We had made it to Pikeville, and our room was at the Fall Creek Falls State Park Inn.  It was about a thirty minute drive off the trail and the park was gorgeous!  Deer were grazing right by the road that twisted through the mountains and over the streams.  Our room was right on the lake, and we enjoyed another restful and peaceful night after feasting at the dinner buffet right next door.  The furnishings in the room were outdated and a bit worn, but the bed was comfortable and the room was clean.  It was a bare bones room, and the bathroom just had a free-standing sink...nowhere to put your "stuff", but we managed. Everyone was very friendly and it was a nice respite from the craziness of the yard sale traffic.  

The view was perfect!

We headed out in the rain the next morning, wondering if the yard sales would even be happening.  By the time we reached Pikeville, the rain had cleared and we picked up the trail where we had left off the day before.  

I'm glad I remembered to pack my rain boots!

Okay, it wasn't a fashion show...I was dressed for the occasion!

We yard saled (I'm pretty sure that isn't a word!) all the way to Crossville and then turned around to start back towards home. 

We stopped at some places for a second time and then ended our day once again in Fort Payne at our new favorite Holiday Inn Express.  This time, we slept in...partly because we were really tired, but also because we now knew that nobody in this area would be out early on the trail.  We headed out around 8:00.

Here are some more great things that we found...

Phillip Moore tells me that he sells out of his cutting boards every year!  They are gorgeous, and I needed a special wedding gift, so I had an excuse to buy one...I picked the one that he's holding in the pic.  They are pieces of artwork, and so pretty you almost don't want to actually cut on them.

...and something special and fragrant from a very sweet lady.

We followed the yard sale trail back to Gadsden.  In all honesty, we were happy to be at the end of it! Three days of that was about all I could handle!  

We met my dad and his lady friend in Gadsden where we treated them to lunch at Chili's. This particular location is beside a pond and the river and it was such a pretty setting for a nice relaxing meal...

They even have resident ducks!

...and with that, we made our way back over to I-65 South, back to Baldwin County.  It always feels sooo good to get back home.  

I know this was a LONG post, but I want to make sure you get a very clear picture, just in case it's something you've thought about doing.  I will end this post here and pick up tomorrow with pictures of my purchases.  

Thanks for visiting!


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