Off the highway in Dunlap, Tenn., traffic slowed to a 10-mph crawl on a sunny Friday afternoon. Men on the roadsides pushed lawnmowers toward their trucks. A handwritten sign on the bottom of a monument boasted, "We buy classic cars!"
Up and down U.S. Highway 127, in between Arby's restaurants and "Welcome to Dunlap" signs, people lounged beneath pop-up tents, their treasures and throwaways splayed before them on tarps and tables and traytops. Old cuckoo clocks. A "Pop-up Pirate" for $1. A pair of Angry Birds pajama bottoms. Golden Christmas light bulbs.
This, as the locals put it, is the second day of what's become a four-day, six-state bargain hunt meant to draw travelers off the interstates and onto the scenic backroads. The World's Longest Yard Sale, said vendor Dorothy Smith, is a beautiful experience because of the variety of travelers.
"I talked to a lady the other day whose grandson lived in England," said Smith, 62. "I can't imagine being that far away."
Here, underneath her shaded tent by the AutoZone off Rankin Avenue, everything is close. Her sales table is filled with clothes that used to fit her four children (and their seven grandchildren). The future doesn't feel so big and shapeless now that she's stopped working at the local nursing home in Dunlap. Now that there are no limits to her search for the next thing. Luckily, her family still calls Dunlap home.
Family like "my-20-year-old."
"He loves American Eagle pants," Smith said. "Then he wanted skinny jeans. Then he wore them once or twice."
One man's trash truly is another man's treasure.
Across the lawn, Albert Bath tinkered with a bicycle turned up on its seat. He's been selling for three years now. This year he has 16 tables and about 8 tarps. During the week he hunts down odd objects, numerous trinkets that humans want to put in their homes. Then he buys them all, turns around and resells them.
Bath said he was taken away by the state before living on several different work farms. Then he did some logging and farming in Minnesota and Montana. Then he visited Las Vegas and decided he had to move there if he could wear shorts and a T-shirt during 45-degree weather in February. Now he lives about 10 miles up Cagle Mountain in Dunlap, he said.
"I was supposed to retire," said Bath, 78. "So, I'm still going."
On the other side of the street, Shonda Holt was still going, too. The mother and horseback riding enthusiast was entertaining a friend, letting her shop while she breezed through some saddles and tack and other horseback riding equipment.
Holt didn't seem like she planned to buy anything.
"I'm just seeing what they've got," she said casually. She thumbed through a wall of bright-colored tack before turning to go on her way.
But as one friendly shopkeeper put it, "you can't walk past tack, as a horse person, without going to look."
The event runs through Sunday.
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @zackpeterson918.