World’s Longest Yard Sale Already In High Gear In Sequatchie

Thursday, August 2, 2012 - by Judy Frank

They’re back!

The world’s longest yard sale hasn’t even officially begun but already there’s a black Nissan Pathfinder – sporting Florida license plates and large signs declaring that the women in the vehicle are “Fleadom Bound!” – smack dab in the middle of Dunlap.

“I talked to my husband last night and he asked how far we were traveling a day,” one of the women joked during a stop. “I told him about 100 miles, and he laughed. But when you consider that sometimes we spend three or four hours in one place, that’s pretty good!”

The Pathfinder isn’t alone, of course.

In Sequatchie County, dealers hawking everything from old license plates to used clothing to antique crockery have had their tables set up along the town’s main thoroughfare since late last week.

Also on hand, of course, are the casual shoppers – many of whom have traveled hundreds of miles – who wander from dealer to dealer, looking for that special treasure they cannot describe but swear they’ll recognize the moment they see it.

But you won’t find veteran shoppers such as Cindy and Debbie – the women in the Pathfinder – who have been making this journey the first week of August for years among the crowds checking out dealers’ predictablr wares in downtown Dunlap.

Instead, they’re on the lookout for signs announcing sales off the beaten path that lead to non-professional sellers: ordinary families with hand-me-downs they no longer want who have transformed their yards and porches and garages into sales areas for the duration.

On Signal Mountain, where the Sequatchie/Hamilton County line is located, the bulletin board at Pruett’s Grocery Store sports such sellers’ announcements.

“NEIGHBORHOOD YARD SALE!” one declares in 48-point type. “July 28 – Aug. 5, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. School House Road, behind Lone Oak Community Center.” Down in the valley, in Dunlap, there are dozens of signs promising bargains galore to yard sale-goers. One, a hand-printed poster attached to a street sign at the intersection of Rankin and Cherry, has attracked the attention of the women in the Pathfinder.

“Big multi-family yard sale,” it promises above large arrows pointing would-be shoppers in the direction of 790 Mountainview Road.”

A couple of blocks later there’s another sign. “This way,” it says, pointing right.

The trail continues for a couple of miles, eventually passing the scenic Dunlap Coke Oven Museum and a shady pocket park across the street where Cindy and Debbie stop to eat the Crunchwraps they picked up at Taco Bell and snap photos.

Then the indefatigible shoppers climb back in the Pathfinder and continue their quest.
Six yard sale signs later – "Yup, this is the way!" – they find themselves in front of a two-story log cabin hidden away in the middle of a woods that the owners of the house swear,  appearances to the contrary, is inside Dunlap city limits.

“Oh my gosh,” one of the shoppers gasps as she catches sight of the antique furniture on the front porch. “Look at that gorgeous mirror! How much is it?”

“$100,” the yard sale proprietor replies, and the happy, good-natured negotiations begin.
Over the 25 years since the yard sale was started as a way of luring travelers off interstates onto more rural highways, the I-27 yard sale has become world renowned, not always for the reasons its original planners intended.

Particularly annoying, critics say, are the horrendous traffic jams it creates which, in a small town like Dunlap, can transform residents’ intended quick Saturday afternoon trip to the grocery store into a frustrating two or three hours on roads packed with loaded-down pickup trucks and vans that move at a snail’s pace – when they move at all.

Over the years, however, residents of affected communities have learned to take the inconveniences in stride.

“We’ve gotten used to it,” the woman behind the counter in the local Adventist Church thrift shop said placidly. “Most folks around here know to go ahead and stock up on the groceries and medicine and other things they need, and then stay home during the sale itself.”


Underwood Road NE Closed July 5-8

Underwood Road NE, just north of Bethel Church Road, will be closed for road construction from July 5-8.  With questions, call Roger Lackey at 706-278-7167. (click for more)

Meet Author William Lee White At Chickamauga And Chattanooga National Military Park

In partnership with the National Park Service, Eastern National invites the public to meet author William Lee White at the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center on Monday.  Mr. White will be available to sign his book, Bushwhacking on a Grand Scale: The Battle of Chickamauga, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.   "Come join us.  Meet author William Lee White. Purchase your signed ... (click for more)

Spiegel Says Walker County Could Make Payments On $8,705,000 Hutcheson Debt; James Says Letter is Heavy-Handed

Erlanger Health System CEO Kevin Spiegel has written Walker County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell to say that Erlanger would consider taking payments on the $8,705,000 Hutcheson debt. Stuart James, special counsel for Walker County, called the overture "heavy-handed." Walker County earlier offered a $1.3 million "global settlement" that was rejected by Erlanger. Catoosa County ... (click for more)

Customer At East Ridge Gas Station Shoots And Kills Robber; He Had Been Trying To Take Female Clerk With Him

East Ridge Police said a customer at an East Ridge gas station early Thursday morning shot a robber, who was then found by police lying outside the station and was arrested.  The robber has died.  His name is being withheld pending the notification of next of kin. At 1:47 a.m., East Ridge Police responded to 4011 Ringgold Road, the Marathon Service Station, on ... (click for more)

A Disturbing Trend At Exit 11 - And Response (5)

So, am I the first to notice a trend?   How many wrecks does exit 11 need before anyone asks "whats up with that?"  I have lost count of the wrecks that continue to happen, even after last year's awful loss of life (which I believe 51 percent of the blame should fall on the THP officer on duty).  The problem with this section of interstate are sight lines ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden This July

I can never remember a day in July when my garden, my lawn, my dogwood tree, and my ferns are all wilting for lack of rain. Right now we are more than eight inches under our average rainfall for the first six months and, on this wonderful weekend, those who love firecrackers are urged to keep a pail of water in case a spark could cause a fire. On the other hand, every July 4 th ... (click for more)