How To: Host a Yard Sale That Stretches for Miles
Yard sales are often spontaneous, one-off kinds of things. But in Jamestown, Tennessee, they are something else altogether.
Yard sales are often spontaneous, one-off kinds of things. But in Jamestown, Tennessee, they are something else altogether. The 127 Sale ("The World's Longest Yardsale") started in 1987 to stimulate the local economy and get visitors off the big highways and onto the historic route, which runs through town. Initially it was limited to the surrounding county, but word spread and two decades later the sale now spans 675 miles across six states. Ready to get your town on the treasure hunters' map? We asked Walt Page of the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce for some tips.
1) Map your route. Decide where makes the most sense both in terms of density and logistics. Choose a route where there will be plenty of participants and easy parking. Create an actual map to help guide visitors through the maze of trinkets and treasures. Be sure to include lodging and restaurants for out of towners. Don't want to pay for printing? Make a Google map.
2) Outreach. Outreach. Outreach. First things first. If you don't have anything to sell you can't have much of a yardsale. Start with the people along the route. In fact, before you decide on the route, you probably want to get their buy-in first. Grumpy neighbors make everyone's lives more difficult. Once you've got the locals on board, loop in the area Business Improvement District and the Tourism Office. These groups should be thrilled with your plan and eager to help make it a success.
3) Know the laws. Not the most fun part of the process, but it's important you do your homework on local health department and sales tax regulations. Who knows, if your event gets big enough you may even get off tax free. "The state has a sales tax holiday which they've now tied into the 127 event," says Page.
4) Keep it simple. Three rules according to Page: anyone can participate, anything can be sold, and no one will be charged admission. Simple enough.
5) Create hot spots. Build areas where several sellers clump together to attract more buyers. These clusters usually happen in open spaces like community parks or at a residential home with a large yard. Groups may bring in food vendors and childrens' activities too.
6) Spread the word. Launch a Facebook page or blog as soon as you have the green light for your event. If you have a lot of vendors you may even want to set up a Twitter account to announce the different kinds of wares that will be on display. Brooklyn Flea has a great Twitter feed for just this kind of thing.
7) Document it. Want to make next year's event bigger and better? It's critical to document your event to show it off for potential sponsors and to recruit more vendors. Set up a Flickr page and ask participants to tag their photos with your event name. Have some extra budget? Hire a professional.
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