GADSDEN, Ala. (WIAT) — A number of thrifty shoppers will begin their journey along the “World’s Longest Yard Sale” in Gadsden on Thursday.
When interstates replaced US highways as the preferred route in the ’50’s and ’60’s, travelers began bypassing small towns. Organizers say their economies took a hit. To pull drivers off the interstate and back into these towns, folks in Tennessee organized a yard sale.
When it worked, other cities joined in. Now, more than 30 years later, Gadsden tourism leaders say the event is their biggest of the year. They say it attracts folks from all 50 states who, based on past surveys, spend an average of $350 in town.
“That’s money that comes from outside the community so, that’s new money. Okay? And that’s a good thing to have because if you have new money coming into your community all the time, your community will grow,” explained Greater Gadsden Area Tourism Executive Director Hugh Stump, III.
Stump says the shopping is great, but so are the experiences with sellers. We caught up with a few vendors who tell us the interactions they have with customers and other vendors keep them coming back.
“Came up here one day and started selling, got to meet a lot of people,” recalled vendor Bobby Goodwin. “The people that have this spot right here and the people who have this spot, we’ve all been here about the same amount of time and we look forward to seeing them every year.”
Stump says yard sales used to be geared towards the older generation, looking for basic supplies. Now, he says he is seeing more young people on the hunt for unique items, like art and road signs.
Vendors will finish setting up Thursday morning. The yard sale runs through Sunday.