A trip without Whiskey is a bit sad. But luckily I went with a fellow animal lover who missed her own family and dog Lucie (GSD) as much as I missed my own. I don’t think I’d know how to travel intensely with people who can so easily be separated from their animals or husbands. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do it. ALL THE TIME. But I miss them dearly.
So I don’t have any dog tips for this trip per se, but what I do have is a list of “How To’s” for future World’s Longest Yardsalers.
Question: Do I have to get hotel reservations on the WLY (World’s Longest Yardsale) or can I just risk spending the night somewhere random.
Answer:You do not need reservations if you do one of two things. You can, if you live within a few hours drive of the sale, just simply plan to drive to it and go as far as you can then go home. The trail covers 690 miles currently and runs from Alabama to Michigan so your chances are pretty darn good that you’re within a quick day trip drive. The second reason you don’t have to get reservations is this: CAMPING. I’m an outdoors girl and so this makes sense for me. This was also why I didn’t take Whiskey. While it is perfectly acceptable for me to “rough it” in the potential heat and summer storms- it is *not* acceptable for me to subject my extremely furry hot-flash prone dog to this.
There are TONS of places to camp along the trail, especially in Alabama and TN where I have traveled. I plan to conquer Kentucky next year. I thought I’d get to KY this year so I’ve checked out a lot of their map and found several state parks and public camp grounds.
Also, I’ve stayed in hotels on two different trips once I started going higher up in TN and I never got reservations. About halfway through the day I’d just start calling places from my GPS or that I’d printed up before hand and asking about the cost of a room. I always called State Parks and old school motels (the drive up one level kind) that were WAY off the main road. A hotel on the main road like say, Best Western, will charge you a minimum of around $200 a night to stay there. Do you want to do that? Just to shop? If you do, you are crazier than me. State Parks typically have room and will not hijack their prices.
How much will camping cost? Anywhere from $5 to $22 depending on the site.
What should I ask when calling? Ask them if you can camp without reservations, where and how much their primitive camp sites are (these are cheaper) and how long they are at the camp registration office. This is important because if they say “Till five” and you expect not to get there till seven simply ask if you can “check in late” and how to do this. Almost every place we called told us how to get in the gate, that we should go ahead and set up camp, and where to pay in the morning once a worker was on duty.
Okay, but how do I find a campsite? Easy Cheesy! Just open up Googlemaps and put in the name of a town you know is on 127 and somewhat close to where you want to shop (you can visit the WLY site to easily find this info) and then zoom in and scroll up 127. Every time you see a park it will be in green. Google the name and see if they have camping. Call with your questions. We had picked out about 5 potential camping sites with 3 being serious contenders for landing sites. We ended up paying for a campsite spot at Big South Fork ($16) which also had backcountry camping for $5 but I just wasn’t feeling anything but car camping at that point.
Question: Can I bring my dog on the Worlds Longest Yardsale? Yes. But I’d prefer no. Yes you *absolutely* can bring your dog. You’ll see tons of dogs. I did! But think wisely about this decision. Are you willing to give your dog lots of water, shade, and rest stops. Is your dog able to handle all day shopping or will you only being doing it in short bursts? I would not bring my dog, but I did see plenty and it was a nice mix of small purse dogs and medium sized dogs. I only saw one large dog the entire time.
I’ve been doing the WLY trail for about 8 years off and on. I’ve missed one or two years. I’ve covered all of Alabama (I tired of it after a few years and have been in TN the last three years and am now moving on to KY). If you do the WLY year after year you notice some trends. There are often the same people in the exact same spots each year. Some of them I like, some I begrudgingly like because they are the only ones who have what I want and charge an arm or a leg, and some I could care less for. It’s like anything else- a mix of every type of person.
You will have a variety of sales and you’ll learn to identify them easily. The first year I stopped at LITERALLY every stop. Every small table. Every huge tent city. But I learned to pick and choose. The time it runs isn’t forever and even if you start on Thursday, unless you intend to skip LOTS of sales, then you’ll find yourself not getting as far as you’d like. There is nothing wrong with going slow and taking all day to cover 50 miles. I’ve done it!
Types of stops: redneck dumping ground– this is a house that has a few tables up and it looks like they’ve literally dumped trash out there. Often they have one or two prices: Really cheap, or “Are you Insane!?” as in the guy who wanted to charge Brooke $80 for some crazy rusted stool… seriously? Seriously?!? These people are often difficult if not impossible to haggle prices with. I often don’t stop because I’m not convinced they want to actually sell anything.
The block yard sale: several houses get together in one yard and have tables. Occasionally you’ll get a vendor mixed in but for the most part what I call “Real People” sales are obvious at a quick drive by. You usually get typical yard sale prices here and haggling is easy.
The Vendor Renting My Yard sale: Several vendors rent out a strip of someone’s front yard. Often you’ll have one person who isn’t a vendor but most are vendors (tent, loot brought from their antique mall/flea market business several states away).
The Tent City: This is the God Stop of Yardsale Stops. I almost *always* stop at these. These tent cities can sometimes be found in smaller versions (10-20 or so tents/tables) but the tent cities I’m talking about are sometimes upwards of 50 to 100 vendors and dealers all shoved in together. There is a professional air about them and haggling is expected… unless you get the one crazy person with “Firm” prices. You’ll know that person soon enough because usually one of the first things out of their mouths when someone asks a lower price is why they can’t, or how that person *obviously* doesn’t know what they are holding/trying to buy, etc.
How to be the best yardsaler: Practice this with me- Look in the mirror and practice your most innocent confused face and say
“Can you make a better price” or “is there any better price you could offer?” “Would you take a lower offer/price” “Would you be willing to take less?”
I don’t have to fake this face. I’m often scrunching up my mouth to one side, I very often can’t look the dealer in the eye. I often look only at the product and might bite part of my lip in the scrunchy part. This isn’t faking. I’m both an innocent haggler who has little desire to do it and so my confusion often bubbles up from my own insecurity of myself as a haggler and I have my own confusion over whether arguing over a price is worth the object I want to own. But here’s the bottom line. Many of these people are dealers. They paid usually 1/3 or LESS for that item your holding and they expect you to haggle.
Another tried and true exercise is this. If you need multiples of something ask “If I buy 3 of these (or 5 or whatever) what would you …” I usually don’t even get the word “accept, take, want” out of my mouth before they’ve answered. Why? Because they have a bottom line price they are willing to sell an item for on every item in their booth. And so should you. Before you ever start haggling you need a number in your head of what that item is worth to you. Especiallybecause so many of the items will have no price at all on it! If you can’t get it for that, are you willing to pay more? It’s almost always an easy yes or no. I didn’t even bother haggling over the price of the iron fence posts that are going into my back garden ($25) It was a fair price and well worth what I saw. If I were buying two I would have asked if he’d have taken $40. Dealers LOVE selling in multiples. But I walked away from the most beautiful chair because I offered $60 and they would only lower the price from $75 to $70. $5 was not enough of a discount for me for the chair. I had little money and it would have been a big chunk. It wasn’t worth it. Because if I had bought it how would I have afforded Rex later?
Rex is a joke by the way. I don’t really collect velvet paintings of huskies. But I wanted to shock and awe my husband by my one hilarious purchase. It now sits on our mantle where he is deathly afraid people will think we really think it is fine art, and not a humorous piece. I say, who cares.
By the way, I almost always have one “Pity Buy” on each trip that horrifies my husband that I’ve brought it into our home. These things bring me laughter, joy and amusement every time I see them. He’s still horrified by the freakishly 1970’s beaver cookie jar on our kitchen counter which is at the same time one of the ugliest and cutest things (if you like ugly things) I have ever seen. Now he must also share his home with Rex. A husky who was well loved, and well painted.
A final note: I highly anticipate going back to Big South Fork to camp their backcountry. It looked beautiful and the land around it is amazing. There be bears though, so be careful and hang yo food right? While camping there we grumbled a lot about pitching our tents and cowboy camped (slept outdoors with no shelter) for most of the night till the rain came and pushed us into our already erected tents. We decided that all state parks should have shelters like we used on the AT for those of us not afraid to sleep unprotected in the outdoors and who don’t want anything other than one roof over our head to protect from rain. Why aren’t there more of these? We nearly slept on the front porch of the bathhouse till I pointed out to Brooke that campers would be tromping over us to get to the potty all night. And boy did they potty all night.
Happy camping and yardsaling y’all. And if anyone has any other questions about the AL/TN sections of the WLY please don’t hesitate to drop me a note below.