675 miles of deals: Annual 'longest yard sale' begins in earnest (with video)

675 miles of deals: Annual 'longest yard sale' begins in earnest (with video)

August 2nd, 2013 by Jeff LaFave in Local Regional News

Justin Holgan, left, and Daniel Beard load an antique library catalog into a truck on the property of Herman Henry along U.S. Highway 127 in Walden during the world's longest yard sale Thursday. Wendy Parker, owner of Miss Wendy's Antiques in Senoia, Ga., bought the catalog and an antique icebox to sell in her store.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

Looking for your own deal?

In addition to the stretches of Highway 129 yard sales, this weekend is Tennessee’s sales tax holiday.

The regular 7 percent sales tax is lifted on clothing and school supplies under $100. Computers priced at $1,500 or less get the exemption (saving deal hunters up to $105).

Purchases made from 12:01 a.m. today to 11:59 p.m. Sunday, are fair game. Online finds from Tennessee retailers count, too.

Weekend warriors have saved $8 million to $10 million every year since 2006.

Malls such as Hamilton Place are extending their hours for the weekend, staying open as late as 10 p.m. today and Saturday, and 7 p.m. Sunday.

Those who aren’t able to shop this weekend are in luck, though: Georgia’s sales tax holiday is next weekend, Aug. 9-10.

The 18-year history of the Henry family yard sale began with a man named “Cricket.”

You can still find him in “the wedge,” a corner spot in the Henry lawn, selling antique kitchen supplies and lanterns. Cricket is one of thousands of retailers in the “World’s Longest Yard Sale” along Highway 127 and its 675 miles of negotiable deals.

The annual bargain weekend slowly turned the Henrys from modest hosts into passionate bargaineers.

“We started out with one guy,” Herschel Henry said. “He had a friend, and then he had a friend, and now it’s wide-open. They love it here.”

Herschel and his father, Herman, sat on a fenced-in porch swing Thursday afternoon with their daschund “Slick.” What once started as a $75 deal between Herman and Cricket is now a bustling commune of tents, antiques and everyday people. Armed with coffee, nachos and portable bathrooms, they will keep watch on the festival until Sunday night.

And the price to play hasn’t changed.

“I still charge $75,” Herschel said. “I never go up on them. I never want to hold them over the line.”

The Henrys know their clients well. Most vendors keep their rusty and/or dusty merchandise in the yard for an entire week while they sleep elsewhere. One pitchman hails from Canada.

“Most of them will be so tired (by Sunday) they’ll leave their tents on the property,” Herschel said. “They’ll come by through the next week and weekend to get their stuff.”

Steve Jordon, a self-described “Antiquarian” from Rossville, Ga., found his collectible calling through books and career insecurity.

“I got laid off several times from my regular job and I had to make a living,” he said. “I started doing it full time. I have a huge book collection.”

The purveyors of Jordon’s tent browsed fruit decorations from a closed grocery store and authentic Chairman Mao propaganda, as well as other 1960s trinkets. His scattered inventory barely fits into a 26-foot-long U-Haul truck.

“That? That’s a saddle rack,” Jordon said.

“But it can be anything you want,” his wife, Theresa, added.

Earlier that morning, he sold a 3-foot promotional box of Ritz crackers for $35. No crackers were included.

Denise Post has visited locations of the six-state sale in each of the past seven years. She collects salt and pepper shakers, and was perusing a crowded table of them — adorned with several hundred instead of the traditional two. The Henry property finds can be simple and heartfelt.

“I just got this mixer for $6,” Post said. “I just like it. It’s orange.”

Although the weekend can prove hectic and laborious for the Henrys, the duo of deals thinks it’s worthwhile. Once everyone leaves, Herschel will lay fertilizer to recover his lawn trodden weary by countless customers and sun-blocking tents.

“That keeps them coming back for next year,” he said.

<em>Contact staff writer Jeff LaFave ator 423-757-6592 or jlafave@timesfreepress.com</em>.