Thursday, August 2, 2012
Marcus Carey’s On the Marc: ‘World’s longest yard sale’ as good as it gets for talkers like me
As anyone who knows me will attest, I like to talk. I like to have a conversation. I like to hear what people think. I enjoy debates. And I like to just “chew the fat,” as they say, about almost everything. So the event taking place in Kentucky this weekend is about as good as it gets for me.
You see, a few years ago someone came up with the idea of a community-wide yard sale, and since then it has developed into the “Corridor 127 World’s Longest Yard Sale.” It stretches from Michigan to Alabama and involves people from all over the world. It has been featured on any number of TV shows and in hundreds of magazine articles.
Our home and farm are located right on U.S. 127 in Owen County, Ky., so in the early years of the event I would often drive a little south to visit with neighbors out in their yards under big shade trees and look over some of the old antiques they had dragged out of the barn. After a while I’d move on down the road to visit with a few more people. And while the variety of old stuff for sale intrigued me, the chance to sit and visit, chat and laugh was what really inspired me to get out and about.
As the event grew in popularity, traffic increased and we decided to sell a few things we no longer needed ourselves. We were amazed at how many people stopped by our house to look at and buy things off of an old farm wagon. The chances for new and interesting conversations increased dramatically as folks from as far away as Sweden made their way around our yard.
Then tragedy struck. A lady, not too far from us, was hit by a car as she tried to cross the busy highway from a yard sale up the road. She died from her injuries. As it turned out people had to find a place to park in the ditches along the road, run up a hill to see the treasures for sale and then try to get back to their cars all the while a constant stream of shoppers were geeking and gauking out of their windows trying to shop from the car. The Commonwealth came along and erected “No Parking” signs, but they did little good. There were too many people out on the “route” and no place to park for all of the sales going on.
My wife and I decided there had to be a better way to keep the now-famous event going and to help make it safe. We had a little 2-acre tobacco patch that we were no longer using right on the side of the road and we decided that it would make the perfect place for a yard sale lot with plenty of parking off of the highway, giving the many visitors to Kentucky a safe place to shop.
So we bulldozed the old fence out, started mowing the grass down and put up a black board fence to make it look very “Kentucky.” The next year we put up a sign and offered people a chance to set up and sell on our lot. In the beginning we only had a few friends take advantage of the opportunity, but as time went by more and more people began to call. Just a couple of years ago we started renting spots to vendors, put in some electricity and added a water source.
Now, we are happy to host quite a few people on our property as vendors and thousands of visitors driving north and south along the route of the world’s longest yard sale. We have opened up an adjoining field to accommodate the increased traffic and last year, on Saturday alone, we had 15,000 cars go through our site.
As for me I don’t sell anything anymore. I take the week off just to make sure things go smoothly, traffic flows safely and people enjoy themselves. I work hard to make the place inviting to our vendors in the hope they will return next year while I sit in my little booth (with a sign that says “office”) and get to meet people from all over the world.
Oh, and of course I spend a lot of time engaged in conversations with our visitors about where they come from, which way they are going and what they’ve seen so far. From hardened old farmers begrudgingly shopping with their wives, to cars loaded with giddy women all wearing the same T-shirts shopping ‘til they drop, the conversations go on for days, which for me is the best part of the whole idea.
You see, my love of talking with people isn’t a newly developed interest. In fact, my grandmother used to say “that boy’s been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.” And for those of you who don’t know what a phonograph needle is, get out on the 127 yard sale route, and be sure to stop by and see me. I’ll show you an old Victrola for sale in the booth across from mine, I’ll show you the needles that go with it and we can sit in the shade and chat for a bit before you head on down the road.
It’s 127 yard sale week here at Steepleview Farm. Come on by and sit a spell; I’d love the chance to chat!
Marcus Carey is a Northern Kentucky lawyer with 32 years experience. He is also a farmer, talk radio host and public speaker who loves history and politics. He is a prolific and accomplished writer whose blog, BluegrassBulletin.com, is “dedicated to honest and respectful comment on the political and cultural issues of our time.” He writes a regular commentary for KyForward.