The US 127 Corridor Sale started in 1987. It now runs from five miles north of Addison, Mi., south to Chattanooga, then switches to the Lookout Mountain Parkway, continuing to Gadsden, Ala. for a total of 690 miles. The four day sale always starts on the first Thursday in August making dates for the 27th annual sale to be Aug. 7-10. The sale is very popular, and visitors from several foreign countries have attended.
As written by Dennis Keim, an editorial photographer from Huntsville, Ala., "It is aptly titled, “The World’s Longest Yard Sale.” Every year individuals clean out their closets and stake out their front yards along the Hwy 127 corridor stretching over 690 miles from Addison, Mi. to Gadsden, Ala. They band together as communities, in groups or as individuals and over a four-day weekend they welcome the onslaught of visitors from the north, southeast and west. It is a mutual exchange of cultures with a common goal; to look, buy and sale. As you transverse the country roads, you will hear a collection of dialects, be privy to incredible stories related to the individuals and the items they sale and see a plethora of items that only your grandmother could love. Most importantly, I think most come to see the unusual and socialize. It is Americana at its best."
The original intent of the sale was to prove the back roads have something to offer, and that the interstate system was not the only mode for travel. County officials put together a list of attractions along the route in Kentucky and Tennessee. There are over 300 attractions along the route to provide enjoyment for the family. Whether it is majestic hills, beautiful scenery, river boats, railroads, toe tapping music, arts, crafts, horses, fishing, hiking, bits of Civil War or Indian History, there are many opportunities to enjoy the beauty and culture of the land along the 127 Sale Route, said officials.
The Lookout Mountain Parkway Association asked to be included in the sale route a few years after the sale began. The Lookout Mountain Parkway leaves Chattanooga as Highway 58 and becomes several different highway numbers before reaching Gadsden. It is no longer US 127, but is the same sale. This routing crosses the Northwest corner of Georgia, going into Cloudland. This added another 100 miles to the already existing 350 miles, thus making it 450 miles at that time-- "The World's Longest Yard Sale."
The Fentress County Chamber of Commerce in Jamestown, Tenn. has served as headquarters for the 127 Corridor Sale since 1995. They are centrally located along the route. Fentress County can also claim the origin of the sale. Mike Walker, the county executive in 1987, came up with the idea of the sale, worked hard to make it happen, and planned for it to be an annual event.
Thousands of people participate in the sale each year as vendors. A front lawn may be turned into a showcase as items are displayed. Off road parking is essential, and many of the homes have this space. Visitors should honor requests of "No Parking" or "No Trespassing" posted by families not participating in the sale--cars can leave deep tire ruts on a soft lawn.
As the sale developed, a vacant field, at a good location has proven to be a place to rent as vendor space. This yields a cluster of sellers at one spot and reduces the stop and park routine of the buyers. Such areas can be spotted from a distance because of the activity. Community parks, such as the South Fentress Park, are proving to be ideal for a grouping of vendors, as parking and restrooms are available.
People come from near and far to view this event. Folks come from all across the country by car, truck, motor home or plane. Some fly in, rent a car, travel the route and ship the new-found treasures back home. Some pull a trailer behind a truck, park the trailer somewhere and run around in the truck seeking items. Pulling a trailer will often limit the places you can visit. A large vehicle may prove to be a problem on this two-lane highway. Traffic congestion is part of the annual phenomenon to be endured, but the chance of finding a treasure lures them on. Many visitors plan their vacations around the sale event, with some traveling the entire 690 miles. Others may opt to spend their time in a selected area, and venture off the beaten path to discover the history and charm of the land.
Whatever the mode of travel you may choose, please do expect plenty of traffic. The pace may slow to that of snarled rush hour traffic. It may be bumper to bumper with everyone stretching their neck to see what is on a seller's table or in the front lawn. Do expect sudden stops to occur without warning, and drive carefully and defensively. Enjoy the spot wherever you are, because down the road a few miles may be a space where no vendors are set up and the traffic will move along as usual. You are here to enjoy the sale and most of the other vehicles are too.
Some book motel rooms a year in advance. A few weeks prior to the sale date, most of the motel rooms are taken. Bed and Breakfast type lodgings do a brisk business during this sale, with most any type of overnight lodging being filled each night. Southern hospitality has led to couples being taken into private homes because nothing else was available. Some visitors to the sale try to find lodging when and where needed. Some find cancellations, some go up to 50 miles, to the right or left of the sale route, to spend the night. Some even sleep in their car. However, these are considered small inconveniences in light of the excitement of finding the deal of the day and anticipation of a big shopping spree.
A few dislike the snarled traffic associated with the sale, but all must admit, the sale is good for the economy along the corridor route. Locals sell their crafts, accommodations are filled, restaurants are crowded, and those renting vendor spaces also add to the local economy. Those who want to break away from the sale are encouraged to visit the local attractions.
For more information regarding the annual Hwy 127 Corridor Sale visit www.127sale.com. Brochures can be obtained by calling 1-800-327-3945.