It's almost mid-way through May, which means if you squint you can basically say that the 301 Endless Yard Sale is a month away. Wow! Times flies when you're furiously planning a two-day, five county, 100 mile extravaganza. If June 17th and 18th aren't already circled on your calendar, go ahead right now and write BIGGEST YARD SALE IN NC across that Friday and Saturday. For all the details you can visit the 301 Endless Yard Sale website.
Planning this event for the hundreds of vendors and thousands of shoppers takes a lot of time and a lot of passion... and a lot of coffee. But, it also means that we aim to answer all your questions and inquiries via phone, email, or Facebook. And one question in particular got us to thinkin', as we like to say here in the South.
The question was posed to us: what is the difference between a yard sale and a flea market?
Why is it called the 301 Endless Yard Sale? Why not flea market? Garage sale? What an excellent question. We think it deserves some investigation.
First lets dive into the actual definition according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
Yard Sale - a sale of used furniture, clothing, etc., held at the seller's home.
Flea Market - a usually outdoor market in which old and used goods are sold.
For long stretches of the 301 event, since its beginnings and even now, the sale consists of primarily locals selling items in their yard - furniture, books, toys, clothes, boats. You name it, we've seen it for sale. Some local artists sell things they've made, like jewelry, or they sell items they've purchased and up-cycled themselves.
Donna Bailey-Taylor, Director and CEO of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau was instrumental in organizing the event for the first time and she talks about the concept for the 301 Endless Yard Sale as a coming together of the community to create the event, "We had very serious collectors and antiquers in the Selma area who knew about the Highway 127 Sale that stretches from Michigan to Alabama every year. We thought that maybe we could pull-off something similar on a smaller and more local scale."
"We talked to the local communities along Highway 301 running through Johnston County and we got them on-board with the concept and the date. The first year was mostly people selling out of their yards and pockets of roadside vendors, but we knew that the event would benefit the community."
So, the 301 Endless Yard Sale did begin and remains partly to this day one big, long yard sale. But, to be fair, we could also call it the 301 Endless Flea Market, because it has organically grown into that as well. There are spots along the route where antique stores, auctions, community organizations, and even unrelated businesses offer up their parking lots and sidewalks to vendors interested in selling goods. Vendors who rent these booths usually don't have a yard on highway 301 to sell out of. They are also normally selling antiques, vintage, or handcrafted items as a legitimate business, not trying to get rid of the extra lawn gnome gathering dust in the garage.
Bailey-Taylor says that the first year of the sale businesses were encouraged to participate in this way but it took a while for the idea of having designated vendor areas along the sale to catch on, "we also had a vision that the sale would bring attention to the many antique and thrift stores in the Selma area and along the rest of the route. We went out to locals and businesses to tell them that they could sell vendor spaces, but you don't how much participation you're going to have until the day of the event. We were pleasantly surprised that first year and it's only grown since."
Now going into the 4th year of the sale and having expanded to encompass 5 counties in NC, the 301 Endless Yard Sale is by definition both a yard sale and a flea market. Along the 100 miles and over 2 days, shoppers from near and far can haggle with locals on green lawns about a box of china or stop at one of the many businesses along the route with vendor booths to pursue multiple stalls at once - filled with old barn-side signs, or vintage red wagons, or a gently used KISS vinyl. Both the sale and the possibilities are endless.
So, now you know. Are you more of a yard sale or flea market shopper? Do you look for that used item to DIY up-cycle or the vintage find that you can brag to your friends over? You'll find all types of shoppers along the 301 Endless Yard Sale - serious antiquers, thrifty moms, crafty creatives, collectors. We hope to see you there too!