It used to be that I would hit the occasional yard sale and buy the occasional record, which is why a couple of my walls consist of nothing buy vinyl. Recently, though, this new thing came along called the mp3 that’s invisible yet still makes sound, and I kind of see myself transitioning over to that side of things here in the near future. And the thing is, you can’t buy an mp3 at a yard sale. So when the biggest yard sale in the whole wide world came to my attention this year, I figured, why bother? I have one of those ipod thingies (actually I don’t, but I could borrow one, probably), and rather than listen to Electric Ladyland on a real stereo I could check it out on like some two-inch speakers, so as to get with the times and find out just how bad great music can sound if you allow it to.
Then the phone rang, and the person calling was Julia Wilkinson, who is a guru in the world of yard sale and esales and all points in between. As the editor of Auction Bytes Blog, she emailed me, “I write about selling on auction and fixed-price sites such as eBay, Amazon, Bonanza, etc..and also I write about Antiques and Collectibles.”
“Yardsalers.net is my own baby,” she added, “for yard sale addicts who like to go to sales, and esp. look for things to resell. :)”
|Didn’t make it to The World’s Longest Yard Sale on Highway 127 this year? Fear not. AuctionBytes Blog contributor and record specialist Jeff Wilson hit up the sales and has lived to tell the tales, and share his finds with you…as well as strategies to keep in mind for next year. Have you ever been? Share your experiences as a comment on the blog!
Although I’ve done the world’s longest yard sale before, several years had passed since I hopped in the car and headed south (I live in Cincinnati) and joined the throngs of people buying and selling on Highway 127, but this week I sprung back into action. Looking back on it a day later, it seems that in almost every respect I got lucky, and in one respect that was true for everyone: it wasn’t a blistering hot day, and although it was cloudy, the only rain we got came late in the afternoon, and it was light.Recent brutally bad weather in southwestern Ohio was one of the reasons I debated whether to make the trip this year. Also, we went out on a Friday, and already we had heard stories about people doing business as early as Monday, so we wondering if anything was left.And there was one other concern: although I buy other things and look at everything, I mostly buy records, which are a good barometer for a sale overall. If there are interesting records, there tend to be interesting old things in general, but the inflated sense of values has thrown a wrench into things.I took a photo at an intersection that essentially began our journey, as Cincinnati folk have to dance around a little bit to reconnect with Highway 127 when they go into Kentucky. If you’re heading south from Ohio, Google 3500 Dixie Highway (it’s in Erlanger, Kentucky), and you’ll see a good place to connect with the sale. Highway 127 and Dixie Highway overlap, and from there all you have to do is keep turning when you see a sign for 127 South.
By that point my friend and I were seeing, as we drove down Highway 127, group sales where dozens of dealers were open for business and buyers had pulled their cars over to the side of the road. The farther south we went, it seemed, the more interesting things became. Pulling off to a farmhouse, we met a woman who raises miniature donkeys on her farm. Aseere Farm is located in or near Verona, Kentucky; its email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and its phone number is 859.485.1166. The woman I spoke to says she gets about $400 to $700 for her donkeys. She sells about four a year, and usually during the longest yard sale she sells two. Once she sells the two I photographed, she informed me, potential customers will have to wait 11 months, for reasons that have to do with — well, I think my readers can guess.
That’s also where I saw a board game called “India” that I photographed because I’d never seen one or heard of it before and it looked interesting. After a quick eBay check on its value (I came up with nothing) I’ll simply leave that one to the expert (i.e., Julia). That’s the kind of stuff I love to see, that you’ve never seen before and is colorful.
Farther south I met a gentleman named Ken Black who goes around and buys stoneware at yard sales when they’re in season and then takes them to the Longest Yard Sale. A friendly guy who was nice enough to take a photo with him holding an old wine cellar jug from Amana, Iowa, where I have been a few times.
Further south I ran into a lap steel from a gentleman who wanted $400 for that; some nice-looking craftsmanship for that.
During the day I asked several people what their best purchases were thus far. One couple that had driven south from Detroit — this was their first year — said they were quite impressed with the clockface gas pump they purchased for $300. They also said they bought long stained-glass windows that they plan to use as a headboard. Like this couple, there were definitely as many or more people buying stuff to own it as opposed to reselling it later at a higher price. Another example: the Murray riding lawnmower that you see being loaded onto the back of a truck; the gentleman said he paid $75 for it.
My favorite purchase took place at someone’s house out in the country. Caroline Smith was reluctant to sell any of her albums, but she did show me some 45s that she purchased when she was living one door over several decades ago. While I pawed through a couple hundred well-preserved early rock, soul, country and rockabilly 45s, she explained to me where she used to buy records, and none of them were close except Western Auto, which, she remembered, sold singles for 99 cents. To think that, at one point in history, auto parts stores sold 45s on the side—now how cool is that?
And finally, another second hand store (this in Owenton, Kentucky) that had the wild card factor; in other words, it had interesting stuff that wasn’t completely picked over. There I pawed through lots of 45s and albums and realized that the effort I’d put into the trip had been worth it. I met lots of interesting folks, found some rare records, and did something besides peck away at a computer. I’m glad I went.
Have you been to the World’s Longest Yard Sale? What was it like for you? Do you plan to go in the future? Post a comment here!