How to Shop the World’s Longest Yard Sale: 5 Ways
Want to shop the World’s Longest Yard Sale? Check out our top 5 favorite tips and tricks for successful hunting….what to do and NOT to do!
This will be our fifth year to shop the World’s Longest Yard Sale. Nothing is ever the same from year to year except for one thing: FUN!
Whether you’re there to fill a trailer with vintage goods or simply looking for a whimsical trip with lots of off-the-beaten-path places, there is something for everyone. After 4 years, we’ve learned a few things to DEFINITELY DO and also a few things to steer clear of along the way.
Everyone’s got to experience it at least once! If you’re reading this post, you probably love the hunt. And that means the 127 Yard Sale, otherwise known as the World’s Longest Yard Sale, is for you!
First, a quick bit if history. And what is the World’s Longest Yard Sale, anyway?
The original idea started in Tennessee and the World’s Longest Yard Sale was established in 1987. When it first began, it ran from Covington, KY to Chattanooga, TN. It later expanded to start in Gadsen, AL and runs all the way to Hudson, MI. The idea was to bring traffic to the small towns running along the 127 route. These towns were becoming forgotten with the development of interstate highways. And if you ask anyone who lives along the 127 corridor in those states, it definitely brings some traffic!
You can find a free printable of the 127 Yard Sale map HERE.
There is literally something for everyone along the World’s Longest Yard Sale and if you love the thrill of the hunt, it’s a bucket list item for sure! You can find everything from family yard sales in front of homes to sidewalk sales from the towns’ small businesses to huge fields with 100 vintage and antique dealers. We’ve stopped at all of the above! You can find more of my tips and ideas for vintage hunting HERE and HERE.
But for this post, we will stick to just the amazingness (yep, a made-up word!) of the World’s Longest Yard Sale and a few things we’ve learned after traveling the 127 corridor!
Tip #1 for the World’s Longest Yard Sale
Here’s Your Packing List:
You’d think that I’d perfected this by now, but it seems we always forget something! Here is a list of the must-haves and the rest is up to you!
- Comfortable shoes that can get dirty (though it’s hot, I try to wear a closed toed shoe and if it isn’t too hot, I wear my Hunter boots (hyperlink). You will get dirty!)
- Lots of water bottles. I start with my reusable water bottle, filled with ice and water from the hotel, but you may or may not find places to refill it through the day. Pack a case of water bottles! And pack some snacks too!
- An empty tote or two. This was Robb’s genius idea and it works like a charm. We take a few empty totes and sort and organize small items as we go. Now, we are usually looking for items to resale at vintage markets, so we go with the intention of buying a lot. Even if you’re shopping just for personal use, an empty tote is helpful so you don’t have little stuff or breakables rolling around.
- Speaking of breakables, a roll of bubble wrap can be extra helpful! You don’t want to get that favorite diamond in the rough home, only to find it got broken!
- Changes of clothes for the evening. It is hot and dirty and sweaty (but totally worth it!) I made the mistake the first year of not packing enough clothes. Sales can shut down as early as 5 or 6 o’clock (and you’ll be ready for a break anyway). We like to get cleaned up and then find a good, solid dinner!
- Tape measure
- Notebook and pencil if you want to keep track of your purchases
- Old blankets and drop cloths for packing around furniture
- Bungee cords and rope (it’s totally possible that you’ll be tying your great deals on top and all around! And you won’t find anyone judging you for that either. They will be jealous of your great deals!)
- Basic vehicle things like jumper cables and cooling fluid. There are lots of off-road adventures and mountains. We’ve been stuck more than once. That’s another post (or not) for another day!
- And if you REALLY get stuck, you just might find essentials for sale along the way! (See Below!)
Tip #2 for the World’s Longest Yard Sale
Make a list.
From year to year, my list varies, depending on any styling themes I’ve been putting together in my head, DIY projects we want to try, or home projects I know will be coming up. There are some staple items, though, that you can always find on my list:
- Architectural salvage
- Vintage French pieces
- Vintage books
- Chippy, white furniture
- Zinc buckets, baskets, or pitchers
- Mortar and pestles
- Old cutting boards/bread boards
Your list will look different, depending on your personal interests and collections. But keeping a list handy helps me stay on track!
Tip #3 for the World’s Longest Yard Sale
Cash is King!
If you’re into thrifting and flea market hunting, you already know this. It is important enough to be worth a reminder, though! While ATMs can be find along the World’s Longest Yard Sale, it can be tricky for the vendors to make it there themselves. They are especially grateful for the small bills on your $1, $5, and $10 bargains.
A good cross body bag is extremely helpful, so if you don’t have one, this is a good investment to make before you go! It is comfortable, keeps your cash close at hand, and is big enough to carry a good hand sanitizer also. I love that this one is so compact but also moisturizing.
Tip #4 for the World’s Longest Yard Sale
Lodging Tips…it’s trickier than you’d think!
There are a few different ways to go about lodging for the World’s Longest Yard Sale.
The hard-core shoppers book their hotels up to a year in advance. That can work, especially since the sale is always and no matter what going to be that first weekend of August. Once you have shopped the sale a few times, figured out the route that you prefer, and have an idea of timing between places, you can feel more confident in booking so far in advance.
Another option that many people do is to book a hotel far in advance for one central location. For example, if you plan to basically only shop the Tennessee sales, you could book a hotel in central Tennessee and plan to have some driving each day to get to different locations. If you are going more for the browsing and overall experience, this is a great option.
What we do is probably not what most hard-core shoppers would recommend. That being said, it has worked for us for 4 years!
We don’t like to be locked into being at a certain place at a certain time. This goes for any road trip that we take! Robb is a Priceline professional…literally so good…so in the mid-afternoon, he jumps on and books a hotel in a spot relatively close to where we hope to start the next morning along the sale route. By booking as we go, we usually have to drive maybe a half hour or so off the main route. Since the sales shut down mid-evening and pick back up again at 7:00-8:00 a.m., we still have plenty of time. The restaurant options are also less crowded and generally speaking, it’s just less congested.
We have had a few stressful moments finding something and a couple of times, have paid more than we cared to. But more often than not, we get a great deal at a nice stop with little hassle.
I think the key to making it not stressful is found in Tip #5. It’s also just having a sense of how you road trip the best. If you need things really planned out in order to relax, then definitely book far in advance. If you’re comfortable going with the flow, then take a more laid-back approach.
At the end of the day, you’ll just want a comfy spot to shower and put your feet up. Even though it’s not your own bed at home, I promise that you won’t have any trouble falling asleep!
Tip #5 for the World’s Longest Yard Sale
Pack a good dose of patience!
I won’t lie. It can get stressful at times, no matter how experienced you are. Traffic can bottleneck, parking can be tricky, hot and tired vendors and shoppers can get grumpy, there is always rain and mud, someone will walk away with the piece you were looking for…right as you walked up to it. You’ll have to load and unload multiple times to get it to all fit.
Side note: Speaking of parking, we usually are pulling a trailer. That is HARD! This year, we were able to find a sprinter van to rent for a crazy good deal. It is so much easier and I can’t recommend looking into that option enough. Pulling a trailer over Signal Mountain is NO JOKE and we even got stranded there one time. Yikes. Remember, I said to pack patience?
Pack a good dose of patience! It’s helpful to remember that there is more than enough “junk” for everyone and to really just go for the experience and fun!
We look forward to the World’s Longest Yard Sale every year now. We always have so much fun. There is more to see and do than could ever get done in a few, short days. You literally NEVER know what you’ll see next and the hunt is the best part of the experience!
If you’ve ever been to the World’s Longest Yard Sale, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! And if you haven’t gone, put it on your calendar! Load some friends up, hit the road, and give it a try! You’ll be so glad you did!