World’s Longest Yard Sale Features Tennessee Treasures
U.S. Highway 127 turns into a linear shopping mall each August as the “world’s longest yard sale” begins.
The sale spans 690 miles beginning in Michigan, and winding down to Gadsden, Alabama. U.S. Highway 127 enters Tennessee just north of Pall Mall and courses through Clarkrange, Crossville, Pikeville, Dunlap, Walden and Chattanooga. Communities and crossroads put out the welcome mat for buyers coming from across the country to browse the many makeshift stands edging the highway.
Traffic moves slowly and can be bumper to bumper, but people keep coming because they never know what bargain they might find. They hope for yard-sale serendipity — a prize find fit for an “Antiques Roadshow” broadcast.
Residents set up folding tables and hand-lettered signs in their front lawns and driveways. Community parks and large parking lots are used too. The South Fentress Community Park in Clarkrange holds a whole group of vendors and provides buyers with ample parking and public restrooms.
Thousands of vendors will sell trash and treasure, as big as cars and small as wedding rings. Professional buyers deem this region ripe for the pickin’. They search for campy pop-culture items and travel tchotchkes. Ordinary folks shuffle through boxes to find farm equipment tools and still-useful household items. Furniture marinated in years of dust and neglect turns into “shabby chic” home furnishings. As the shop-a-thon progresses, people look like the Clampetts as they drive their heavily laden cars and pickup trucks down the two-lane.
Organizers at the Fentress County Chamber of Commerce in Jamestown were looking for ways to get people into rural communities and boost tourism. A giant yard sale was the answer. Now they claim the 127 Corridor Sale is the world’s longest yard sale and estimates tally about 25,000 people a day browse through the bric-a-brac.
“This is our 25th year and we’re expecting it to be bigger and better than ever, and I’m sure it will be,” says Leann Smith, director of tourism and membership at the Fentress County Chamber of Commerce. “We’re getting plenty of calls … more international phone calls than we have ever received. It’s the curiosity. I mean, it’s a yard sale that runs from Michigan to Alabama, and Tennessee is one of the best and most beautiful parts.”
Motels and restaurants fill with people ready “to go thrifting,” and gift shops and antiques marts benefit from an extra stream of customers. Tourism leaders encourage visitors to experience the charms of country living and see sights along the way. Top destinations include the Sergeant Alvin C. York State Historic Park in Pal Mall, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Pickett State Park, Fall Creek Falls State Park, and popular attractions in Chattanooga.
The scenic highway provides easy access for hiking, horseback riding, fishing, boating and canoeing. It connects visitors to wineries, craft communities and cultural attractions, such as the Cumberland County Playhouse in Crossville.