In Aug. 7-10 issueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
RUSSELL SPRINGS - The 21st annual 127 Yard Sale officially runs through the 10th, and with gas prices dropping nearly 25 cents in the past week, vendors are hoping for — but not banking on — a big, money-making weekend.
The “World's Longest Yard Sale,” as it has been dubbed, has become a national phenomenon as people come from near and far to travel U.S. 127 to hunt for the best bargains and the biggest deals around.
The 127 corridor spans more than 650 miles and five states from Defiance, Ohio, near the Michigan border, through Kentucky, Tennessee and part of Georgia to Gadsden, Ala., directly through Russell Springs, Jamestown and the Lake Cumberland area.
Many local vendors are still worried that gas prices around the $3.76 mark will throw people a loop.
“The way the gas is I doubt it'll be as big as it has been,” said Brian Russell, of Jamestown, whose set up shop at the intersection of Lakeway Dr. and U.S. 127.
“That's all you hear is about the gas,” he said. Still, Russell and others have brought out a number of items, including antiques, toys, clothes, home interior and more to try and lure those passing by to stop in. Russell has been involved with the 127 Yard Sale for a decade. In those years he said he has seen business at the sales locally continually decrease.
“Whenever this thing first started it was unreal, you could sell people anything,” he said. “Now if you can make your money back on some of it and make a dollar on the rest you've done well.”
The area where Russell is set up is usually full of vendors by this time before the sale each year, but not this one.
“Hopefully, later on in the week it'll begin to fill up some,” he said. “Usually this place is full by now.”
Russell, who was also set up last weekend, said he had more locals stopping in and looking rather than out-of-towners. “But maybe they'll show up.”
He said some of his best-selling items were well pumps, pocket knives and pocket watches.
“The last two years or so, clothes have been the biggest seller,” he said.
Russell Springs native Kelly Burton also has a few items for sale this weekend, most notably his collection of geodes, rocks that are shiny and crystallized on the inside.
“I usually find them in the head of a creek but in 10 creeks around here I may find them in one,” he said. “They're not plentiful.”
The weekend is also supposed to be in the mid-80s and humid with a slight to moderate chance for a thunderstorm through the weekend. This follows several days earlier in the week of temperatures in the mid to upper 90s.
“You'll see people set up along the side of the road with no shade in sight,” Burton said. “I don't know how they do it.”
Burton said he didn't expect too much business this weekend either because of the gas prices, but he said he'd remain optimistic and stick the weekend out.
“I don't believe there'll be half the crowd there normally is with the economy being what it is,” he said.
With Russell County schools in session — school started on Wednesday — Burton also said that could hinder both the sales and school transportation during the morning and afternoon.
Two ladies, Peggy Arnold and Judy Taylor of Hamilton County, Ohio, that were “shopping” this past Monday afternoon said they were stopping by the sales on a return trip from Dale Hollow Lake where they had been boating with some family and friends.
“We didn't make the trip just for the sale but (the sale) is why we chose to go back to Ohio this way,” Arnold said.
Taylor said she hoped to find something worth buying on their return trip. “You're liable to find anything,” she said.
The original intent of the sale was to prove that the back roads still have something to offer, and that the interstate system was not the only mode for travel, according to sale officials.
The Lake Cumberland area is roughly the midpoint of the sale and with beautiful scenery, the lake and other opportunities along the way, this area is a hot spot for many people.
Officials say thousands of people participate in the sale each year as vendors and the people traveling through the areas give a boost to the local economy as people pack local businesses and restaurants.
With the big sale, traffic problems are commonplace, but organizers say the positive outweigh the negative.
A portion of the sale will be videotaped by Home & Garden Television along the 127 corridor from Frankfort, Ky., to Gadsden for a later special broadcast, according to other media outlets.