by Meg & Rich, rufflesandoveralls.com
Picking, it's what we love, it's what we do for a living. We look for vintage everywhere we go. From yard sales and estate sales to thrift stores, flea markets, and antique malls, if there is vintage to be found we'll find it.
One of our favorite picking spots is the annual 127 Yard Sale. The World's Longest Yard Sale, as it is also called, stretches from Alabama to Michigan along Highway 127. Each year when the first weekend of August rolls around, pickers from across the country head to this incredible 4 day event in search of vintage treasures.
We've been traveling up and down Highway 127 each August for the past few years. We've learned a lot along the way. I thought I'd share some of our best tips in case you plan on hitting the road to do some picking next summer.
Prepare - A successful picking trip requires some advanced preparation. Here are some of the things you'll want to pack before you leave home.
Cash: Cash is king at yard sales. If you're traveling a considerable distance, you may find that your bank does not have a location nearby. Make sure you bring enough cash to cover your purchases so you don't have to drive out of your way and pay multiple ATM fees to cover a big purchase. If you find a business vendor that takes Venmo or credit card, you may want to take them up on it to conserve cash.
Tools: You never know when you are going to find that perfect piece of furniture you've been searching for. When you find it, you want to be sure you can bring it home with you! Bring a measuring tape to make sure your new favorite piece is the right size and to make sure it will fit in your vehicle. You might also want to have a few screwdrivers and a pair of pliers in case you need to disassemble your piece to transport it. Some cargo straps may also be in order so everything arrives at your final destination in one piece.
Packing materials: It can be helpful to bring boxes and paper wrapping or bubble wrap to contain smaller or breakable items.
Food and water: You'll want to make sure that when you head out for the day you bring some water and snacks with you. You may even want to bring a meal or two. You never know where you are going to be around mealtimes or which restaurants might be nearby.
Transportation - Depending on how much you plan on buying and bringing home with you, you may want to consider renting a cargo van or utility trailer for this picking trip. We always bring our 12 passenger van with the seats removed and a small utility trailer with us, because that is what we have. We always run out room by the end of our trip! If you bring a trailer with you, you'll probably want to drop it somewhere while you shop. There are lots of places to stop off the beaten path that can't accommodate trailer parking. Even if you stick to the larger vendor shopping areas, finding room to park a trailer on the busier weekend days can be really tricky. We've debated renting a box truck for this trip several times, but we always decide against it because of how difficult it would be to park and maneuver.
Speaking of parking, you'll want to always be sure to check unpaved parking areas for mud. Ask us how we know! Getting your vehicle stuck will really put a damper in your day of shopping. You'll also want to be sure that you always drive safely and look carefully before crossing the road. Lots of drivers get distracted looking at the sites and don't always pay careful attention.
What to Wear - You never know exactly what kind of weather you'll run into in early August. It can be super hot some days, and some mornings can be kind of cold (at least for this Florida native). You'll want to bring at least one sweatshirt for the occasional cold morning. A hat and sunscreen are great for keeping you going on sunny afternoons. Whatever the temperature, I find it best to wear sneakers or boots instead of sandals. The vendor fields are sometimes muddy, wet, and hilly. I always end up changing out of my sandals after a couple of stops!
Shopping - This is the good part! Officially, the World's Longest Yard Sale runs Thursday-Sunday. That doesn't mean you can't get a head start on your shopping! A lot of vendors are set up the Sunday before the yard sale begins, some set up even earlier than that. Our favorite days to shop are Monday-Friday. All of the stops are much less crowded than on the weekend and you get the first pick of everything!
You might be surprised at how high some of the prices are for a yard sale. Many of the vendors have vintage and antique businesses. Don't be afraid to negotiate and don't be afraid to walk away if you can't agree on a price. There is so much to see, you'll likely find a similar piece later for a better price. We've found that the best prices can usually be found at smaller stops a little bit off the beaten path.
Mark your calendars for the first week of August! The 127 Yard Sale is something every picker should experience at least once! You never know what you might find when you head out on the open road!
Hi I'm Kathy, owner of Vintage Finds Magazine. I hope you enjoy these vintage shops and markets.