Every August, the World’s Longest Yard Sale snakes its way 690 miles from Gadsden, Alabama to Hudson, Michigan. With such an embarrassment of riches, the shopper may not know where to start. (The stopping part is easy: you run out of money and/or room in the car). Here’s a suggestion: the southernmost part of the route follows the scenic Lookout Mountain Parkway 93 miles from Gadsden through a corner of Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since the Alabama portion of the route alone boasts some 1000 vendors, you will probably be thoroughly over the whole experience by the time you hit Chattanooga. If not, no problem. Just keep following the U.S. Highway 127 Corridor from Chattanooga for another 600 miles.
The Yard Sale began in 1987 in Tennessee, as a way to encourage motorists to abandon the Interstate for the region’s scenic byways and small towns. After a series of expansions, the event now draws visitors from all over the United States and even other countries. The sale always takes place over four days at the beginning of August—in 2018, the dates are August 2-5. There’s plenty along the route to attract non-shoppers, too: the area is rich in natural beauty and has a number of state parks which offer hiking, biking and fishing. This is bluegrass territory, and some places along the sale route feature live music. Vendors range from professional antique dealers to homeowners trying to clear out their closets. Sales can be found in front yards, in business parking lots, and in pastures. The event has hit the big time: it’s been featured on HGTV and in Southern Living, USA Today and Newsweek. Some shoppers arrive driving U-Hauls and have been known to resell their bargains via eBay. The most popular items are collectibles, farm implements, dishes and glassware. Some vendors offer homemade preserves or fresh vegetables.
Parking opportunities range from ample to nearly non-existent.
Planning to go? Bring a large car and plenty of cash. Wear sunscreen and drink lots of water. Finally, pace yourself, so you don’t run out of room before you clear the Gadsden city limits.
photos by John Dersham