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301-Endless-Yard-Sale(Johnston County, NC) – The organizing committee of the 301 Endless Yard Sale met July 17 to gather feedback from the communities involved and review survey results. With mostly positive feedback from all involved, the committee has set the dates of June 19-20, 2015 for next year's event.

"Overall the biggest complaint was the hot weather, obviously, something the committee cannot control and some traffic concerns, wishes for more parking, and calls to hold the event twice a year (Spring and Fall)," stated Donna Bailey-Taylor, Executive Director, Johnston County Visitors Bureau. Other members of the committee reported the following comments:

Dunn Tourism Director, Sharon Stevens reported her community had a great experience and they are ready to do it again! She estimated they had around 45-50 vendors and she received positive feedback from vendors and businesses. Joe Stallings of Benson reported the event went very well with the town having around 75 vendors. Downtown businesses did very well, especially the ones closer to 301 and next year they plan to have more directional signs. Overall, they heard Benson was the best spot for the event. Sarah Edwards of Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation reported more vendor locations popped up for the event the day of the sale and that there’s still a lot of potential for locations just outside of town along US 301 near WTSB Radio Station. Signage was placed to draw people downtown to other retail stores and restaurants and having a vendor kit with helpful information, sign templates, and best practices would be a great planning tool for next year. The Town is considering a kick-off concert at Smithfield Town Commons to add an incentive for shoppers to spend the night in the area.

Mayor Cheryl Oliver of Selma reported the antique stores had vendor booths and directed shoppers to their stores and/or sidewalk sales. They saw a lot of community involvement and non-profits like the American Legion made $2,500 for their organization. The Mayor reported they met some day-trippers that decided to stay the weekend, going to Wal-Mart to buy supplies so they could shop the next day. Many vendor locations are reporting spots for next year area already booked. Lori Medlin of Halifax County Visitors Bureau stated they had a very successful event along Roanoke Avenue which is off of 301 and shoppers found Riverside Mill, whose owner wishes to be an advertiser on the website next year. The CVB set up a visitor services tent and the only complaints they heard were from visitors confused that Nash County was not participating. Although there was a Car Show and Yard Sale that participated in Nash, there was a large gap from Wilson to Roanoke Rapids. They felt Friday was better than Saturday as vendors broke down around 3pm and they had vendors from PA, SC, VA, and OK.

Results of the Vendor Survey

The committee reviewed the online vendor survey results and key points noted by the committee were:

•  35% of vendors heard about the event from WRAL, followed by 30% website, 30% Facebook, 22% by postcard/brochure, 19% by Classified Ads.
•  76% of vendors sold on both days.
•  Average sales were about $500 each day.
•  Vendor fees varied from free, donations, up to $75 per day.
•  81% of vendors found their spot because they knew the property owner.
•  79% of vendors sold yard sale items, 48% collectibles and 38% antiques.
•  83% of vendors plan to come back next year.
•  50% of vendors surveyed said to leave it a Friday-Saturday event.

The committee discussed the feedback from people complaining about too many commercial vendors and that they wanted just “Yard Sale” items and pricing. The committee discussed that what the vendor sells is not regulated and there were lots of "junking" vendors, as well as, antiques and collectibles, yard sale items, and then the unique items like golf carts, boats, motorcycles, and businesses that pulled warehouses of merchandise out for sale.

"The 301 Endless Yard Sale is all about the hunt, you never know what you will come across. It may be high end antiques or the thrifty household items, " stated event founder Tommy Abdalla. Next year the committee can include a tagline that specifies, "you’ll find anything and everything along the 301 Endless Yard Sale".

Discussion was had about moving the event date and the committee felt this year the weekend was unusually hot for June. If the event was moved to the spring or fall, there were many conflicts with other major festivals held in the destinations, sporting events, football weekends, and the state fair. The committee decided there are benefits to having the consistency and agreed to keep the event the third weekend in June, which will be June 19-20.

Overall marketing expenses and ROI

The four Visitors Bureaus involved split the cost of the brochures, classified ads, and each community purchased banners. Halifax and Johnston placed some local ads and worked with area radio stations for promotion. The JCVB invested some promotional dollars on Facebook, which increased from 300 likes to 5,300 likes since last year's event. With the promotion on WRAL, the www.301endlessyard.com again exceeded bandwidth with over 75,000 page views in June. Each CVB averaged $1,000 to market the event.

Although hard numbers from hotels is not available on the number of room nights, each destination reported hotels saw overnight stays. The Facebook map set up to track where vendors and visitors were coming from indicated some of the feeder states for this event were: NC, VA, SC, FL, AL, OH, PA, MA, TX, MD and CO.

Expanding the 301 Endless Yard Sale from Roanoke Rapids to Lumberton

The goal for 2015 is to expand the sale to include the counties of Nash, Cumberland and Robeson Counties. The committee has agreed not to have gaps next year as it causes too much confusion for vendors and visitors. Planning meetings will begin in January and will be held in Smithfield at the Johnston County Visitors Bureau conference room. For more information and to keep connected, visit the website, www.301endlessyardsale.com or follow the event on www.facebook.com/301endlessyardsale.

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