A yard sale that began last year in Johnston County is getting closer to its goal of stretching up and down the East Coast.
This year, the Endless Yard Sale on U.S. 301 will reach 100 miles in length, up from 30 miles last year. With the addition of Halifax, Wilson and Harnett counties, this year’s sale – on Friday and Saturday – will stretch from Dunn to Roanoke Rapids. Last year, it ran from Benson to Kenly.
“There are great buys out there,” said Donna Bailey-Taylor, executive director of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau, the sale’s chief organizer. Last year, she noted, some vendors sold out and drove home overnight to restock their tables.
The endless yard sale is what it sounds like. Vendors set up on the sides of U.S. 301 for miles. Some vendors will be veterans of flea markets. Others will be families looking to make a little money by unloading unwanted items.
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Just about everything will be for sale, Bailey-Taylor said, including antiques, furniture, clothes, toys and art.
The yard sale is modeled after the Endless Yard Sale held every August on U.S. 127 from Michigan to Alabama. Selma shopkeeper Tommy Abdalla goes to that sale every year and wanted to bring it to Johnston County.
More than 150 vendors joined in last year, and the sale drew an estimated 5,000 shoppers, Bailey-Taylor said.
But expect some congestion on U.S. 301. Last year’s sale slowed traffic to a crawl on some stretches of the highway. “We’re encouraging the chambers and the towns to remind people that are local that if you don’t want to be part of the sale, please go on I-95,” Bailey-Taylor said.
No one is in charge of who sells what where, but Bailey-Taylor said her staff is trying to avoid last year’s pitfalls. She is encouraging sellers to think about parking and make sure it’s available, along with portable toilets. Her staff is also telling restaurants to stock up on food and is asking vendors to sell cookies and crackers as snacks.
In addition to benefiting sellers, the yard sale brings people to the hotels and restaurants, Bailey-Taylor said. She heard of people coming from South Carolina and Florida last year.
“It definitely brings a lot of people to the area,” said Sarah Edwards, interim director of the Downtown Smithfield Development Corp.
Edwards said some of the bigger locations in Smithfield include:
• Brightleaf Flea Market.
• Harper’s Flea Market Mall.
• 301 Flea Market.
• Wood Termite and Pest Control.
• Evans Tire & Automotive Center.
• White Swan Bar-B-Que & Fried Chicken.
• Johnston County Industries.
• Department of Social Services.
For this year’s sale, the visitors bureau in each county came together to advertise the event, splitting the $3,500 cost between them, Bailey-Taylor said. Towns have banned food trucks again this year, but nonprofits are allowed to sell food.