A 30-mile stretch of U.S. 301 played host last weekend to the county’s first Endless Yard Sale, which attracted more than 150 vendors and thousands of shoppers.
Organizers consider the event a success, and they’re hoping it will be even bigger next year.
“The vendors are happy, the merchants are happy, the shoppers came, and it was very well attended,” said Donna Bailey-Taylor, head of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau.
Bailey-Taylor, a member of the event’s planning committee, said the sale was a boon for more than the outdoor vendors, who sold everything from furniture to infant clothing. Many businesses along the route benefited as well – especially restaurants and antiques stores.
Albert Kensak, who owns the Treasury antiques store in Selma, said he tripled the business he normally does in a weekend. “The yard sale was great for business,” he said. “We had an enormous amount of customers coming through our doors.”
The sale snarled traffic in places, especially on the two-lane stretches of U.S. 301.
“There were some rural areas where the traffic was heavy, but people were very considerate,” Bailey-Taylor said.
Traffic was the biggest downside to the event and something the organizing committee will have to tackle moving forward.
Kensak said the committee needs to do a better job of warning motorists who have no interest in the sale.
“It probably was frustrating (for them), so we should probably encourage them to find alternate routes during that day,” Kensak said. “In some areas, there were probably some parking issues, but overall, I thought it went fairly smoothly.”
Bailey-Taylor said the sale could place commercial vendors in more-concentrated spots, preferably places with more parking. That would allow shoppers to visit multiple vendors at one stop.
But even with the traffic woes, organizers are confident they can expand the sale next year. Bailey-Taylor said towns outside the county, including Dunn, have already expressed interest in taking part in it.
Bailey-Taylor said she was not sure how big the event could be next year. “We’ll just have to have that conversation in the committee,” she said. “It’s a lot to coordinate.”
The Endless Yard Sale is the brainchild of Selma business owner Tommy Abdalla and Selma Mayor Cheryl Oliver.
They were inspired by the 127 Yard Sale, which started in Tennessee and now stretches from Alabama to Michigan.
That’s the scale Abdalla sees in the future of the 301 sale. The highway stretches from Maine to Florida, and Abdalla thinks the 301 sale could include the entire corridor someday.
He said he sees no reason it can’t triple in size next year or even extend into neighboring states. “Overall, I can’t see it not being explosive next year,” he said.
Kensak said he isn’t sure where the sale will end up, but he’s reaching for the same goal. “Let’s put it this way – Maine to Miami,” he said. “Not next year, but who knows?”