Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bicycling in a Heat Wave 8/12/07

A mass of warm air has been hovering over Atlanta for over a week now and the 100 + degree temperatures are unbearable. The air has become stagnant and foul and Cindy warns me to stay inside for the worst of it. On normal weekend days my yard sale activities are normally followed by a long bike ride through local neighborhoods. Instead of facing the stifling afernoon heat (and bad air) I combine my yard sale and biking activities this morning.

Glendale Ave. Candler Park “Moving Sale”
I first cruise by a sale on nearby Page Ave but since they are still in the early stages of setting up I head over towards this sale near Dekalb Ave. The sale was inside an old brick building that housed a hair salon. The signs leading me there proclaimed that it was an air-conditioned event which was good advertising considering the forecast 102 degree temperatures today. Inside the salon were several tables and shelves of very clean and somewhat exotic clutter. The seller appeared to have a taste for tiki style. The artifacts ranged from oversized tiki carvings to animal skin print fabrics. On the walls were several Nagel prints, which now in a salon must be considered either retro or classic. On one wall was what appeared to be a coat rack made of manikin arms. Among some books were “Point of Origin” “It”, “The Idiot’s Guide to New Product Development”, “Aphrodite”, “The Soup Cookbook”, “The Tao of Pooh”, “Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me”, “Real Moments” and “War and Peace”. In addition to all this there was a large selection of barware some women’s clothing and a pair of large lamps with cherubs on them.
I bought a copy of Isabel Allende’s “Aphrodite” which the seller packed in a very attractive zebra print gift bag.

Coat rack of arms.

Candler Park Dr. _ Candler Park “Yard Sale”

I left the coolness of the salon and pedaled a few blocks to the dead end of Candler Park Dr. Here in the shade of a large oak in front of a large craftsman bungalow was a medium sized sale just being set up. Among the stuff were bags of obscure plastic fantasy figures, two very old plush poodles, a novelty wall clock that said “I’ve used up all my sick days so I’m calling in dead”, a plush moose, a button that said “If you ain’t cowboy you ain’t shit”, and a racy “Sweet Suga Mama” Halloween costume still in its original bag. Among some books were “Magnet Therapy”, “The Art of Sexual Ecstasy”, “The Art of Scrying” and “The Prescription Encyclopedia”
Leaning against one of the tree trunks were several large framed photographs of Marilyn Monroe, a framed assembled jigsaw puzzle of Monroe and a mirror framed in marabou.
I bought nothing.

Retro plush toys in Candler Park.

Page Ave. Candler Park “Tag Sale – Four Queens Liquidation”

I was very impressed in seeing the signs that proudly professed gender identity as well as higher prices for early birds. This was the sale I had stopped at earlier but I did not want to irate the sellers as they set up. When I returned later in the morning they had finished setting up but a lot of the stuff had already been sold. Here on a side street off of Page, along the side walk the sellers had set up a well organized collection of men’s clothing, home furnishings, a selection of small mirrors with ornate frames, a miniature golf bag, a pirates head carved from a coconut husk, a skateboard and some stemware still in its original box. Among some books I found “100 Best Companies for Gays and Lesbians”, “The T Factor Diet”, “Queen of the Damned”, “Kiss the Girls”, “Cutting Loose” and “Nobody Knows”.
I bought a pair of size 32 men’s shorts hoping that I had gotten down to that size this summer. But when I arrived home I found they were still a bit too tight.

Head found at sale.

Hosea Williams Ave. – Kirkwood “Giant Fund Raiser Sale”

Later in the day when it was nearing 100 degrees, I got into my air-conditioned Camry to visit this sale held to help raise money for local writer Doug Deloach’s liver transplant. Doug did well with the transplant but his medical costs are through the roof. The event had started a day earlier so I missed a lot of the more interesting stuff they had out. But there was still a pick up truck full of CD’s and books that had been donated by a local newspaper. Among the remaining goods I found some melting chocolates in the shape of Nascar stock cars, a broken lopper, a few boxes of Rice-a-roni, some knitting supplies and a set of mugs in the shape of Santa’s head.
The sale raised a good bit of money to help with his expenses but much more is needed.

Stock car chocolates melting in the hot sun.

Broken lopperswith a San Fancisco treat.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

8/5/07 The Longest Yard Sale

In the three years I have been publishing this site one of the questions that I’m commonly asked is “have you ever been to the world’s longest yard sale?” That sale is a yearly event where local folks along a highway stretching from Alabama to Ohio all hold yard sales on one long weekend each summer. Over the years I have attended sales from Hawaii to US military bases in Germany. But for the most part what I have studied in this web site has been sales in my own back yard. Of the hundreds of sales I have documented over the past three years most have been within four miles of my home in Atlanta. In my travels through the rural south I have not had much attraction to the divestments of my country cousins. Perhaps I am a bit of a snob for a pile of Wal-Mart clutter in someone’s yard does not offer me the intellectual stimulation I get from perusing the castoffs of some bourgeois bohemian or the discards of an urban eccentric. I also feared that this sale would consist more of booths set up by professional resellers than the local folks seeking weekend divestment.
But to culminate three years of documentation and the last weekend of my summer vacation I decided to take on the longest sale.
The sale begins in Gadsden Alabama, then heads north through a slice of north Georgia, it then bisects Tennessee and Kentucky and ends somewhere in Ohio. I went out with Cindy early Saturday morning and headed to Gadsden. A local directed us to the starting point and warned of the slow moving traffic. Near a city park a large sign marked the beginning of the sale. I presumed the sign to be permanent and that tourist come here to have their photos taken next to it even when the sales not happening. I also wonder if there is a partner sign somewhere in Ohio marking the end of the sale.
As soon as we turned onto the highway traffic did slow to a crawl. For the next four hours we encountered mile after mile of clutter. The sales were of several types. Some were yard sales in people’s yard occasionally run by the homeowners themselves. Then there were larger lots and yards with space rented out to whoever wanted to set up there. In other larger empty lots or parking lots to commercial buildings were sales for churches and groups. Between all this were some houses with their yards bordered in orange tape where the residents must have wanted nothing to do with the event. I’m sure these folks are treated like the neighbors who don’t want to put up decorations at Christmas time. Occasionally there are stretches where there are no sales. Then there were a number of whole flea markets set out mostly with professional and semi professional resellers occupying entire farm fields.

As we stopped and wandered amid the buyers, the sellers and the assembled goods it appeared that I was correct in my assumption of what might be there. Among the items fulfilling my dour expectations were large plastic children’s toys, old tools of questionable quality, nondescript clothing and home décor that walked a thin line between mundane and tedious. There were some objects that I would not see in a jaunt thought Candler Park. These included garish religious images, obscure mechanical instruments, pickup trucks filled with golf balls and boxes of old church supplies. Some things were no different from urban sales for along the route I found the usual share of disassembled ceiling fans, plush toys and large partially burned candles.

Truck filled with golf balls.

The usual country clutter?

A few unique objects stood out such as a two-foot ceramic squirrel that I had to talk Cindy out of buying and a framed drawn portrait of an old woman placed next to a crucifixion scene.

Unique art found in Alabama.

The squirrel we left behind.

The presentation was as varied as the sales. On a few lots there were simple piles of clutter gathered on a tarp n the grass. Most sellers attempted some sort of organization but after seeing so many tables of goods to be sold it did not matter. Some sales were in the sun, some onder covered awnings and tents. Most of the sellers were right next to the road. regardless of what was adjecent. One larger sale was set up next to a local cemetary.

Man with melon at grave side sale.

Sign indicating that this sale is the real thing.

The professional sellers were like any flea market one might encounter in the rural south. Some were selling handicrafts such as planters made from old tires, while most sold the usual antiques, Elvis junk, not so old furniture and sports memorabilia.

Sellers relaxing at flea market site.

On top of all this was a smattering of food vendors pitching BBQ, hot dogs and cold drinks. One booth offered sand art that you could eat.

Attendee attracted to the smell of cooking meat.

Sandy edibles for sale.

The over scene was tempered by the exhausted heat of an August heat wave. Many locals appeared entertained by the event and used the congested highway as a place to ride their ATVs over curbs and yards. Temperatures hovered in the mid 90’s and by 11AM everyone was moving slow. I found as the day went on I was more and more reluctant to leave to cool of our cars air conditioning. By One o’clock we had had enough we had barely traveled 20 miles of the total 450. So we turned east towards Georgia leaving the Longest Yard Sale behind. Before departing I did ask one seller why they didn’t hold the event at a more pleasant time of year. She told me that there was another longest yard sale in October on highway 411 just a few miles from this event. So in the end I don’t even know if this was actually the longest yard sale or just an event using that moniker. I don’t know if I’ll be back for the other sale.
I bought nothing. Cindy bought a piece of metal to use on a sculpture she’s constructing and a straw bag. We noticed on the way home the handle on the bag was coming loose.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Story in the Tennessean

Here's a link to the story from the Nashville paper. The feature was on the cover of the living section.

Yard Sale Addict in Nashville Tennessean

Saturday 7/28/07

Sign seen through wet windshield.

It was on the verge of rain when I left the house this morning at 9:20. It began raining off and on shortly after that time. Each sale I visited reacted differently to the rain.

Wylie St. - Edgewood “Yard Sale”

I was personally invited to this sale by an artist who was familiar with my work. The event was in front of a small frame one-story home not far from Moreland Ave. A moderate selection of goods was gathered in the small yard when I arrived amid menacing rain clouds. Here I found a selection of Mac based computer items, well arranged women’s clothing hung on a fence, an aging power Mac, kitchenwares and odd assorted items spread out on a tarp on the grass. The seller asked me if I had seen the plastic German made figure of a fellow blowing bubbles from his buttocks. It was actually the first thing I was drawn to. Other notable items included a model of a human heart and a pillow shaped like a leopard. In a box of books I noted the following titles “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”, “Information Graphics”, “Walt Whitman, a Life”, “Stoned”, “If You Don’t Buy This Book We’ll Kill This Dog” and “The King is Dead”. In a box of novelty buttons I found several promoting the site
While I was photographing the artifacts the rain clouds opened up and the sellers began moving and covering their stuff.
I thanked the seller for his invite but bought nothing.

Bubble blowin figure.

Heart in a box.

Indiana Ave. – Lake Claire “Yard Sale”

This was in the driveway and garage of a strange looking infill home in my neighborhood. My best description for these two adjoining homes would be faux-Charlestonian. The assembled goods were the typical newish things one often finds at newer in-town homes. New unused towel racks and new but seemingly useless electronics like not so great computer speakers and oversized car amps. They had a fair amount of furniture in the driveway and when the rain came to this sale they began a form of yard sale triage to save what they felt were the most damageable and valuable items from the rainfall. Protected from the rain in the garage were some items of no discernable value such as a Chia pet dinosaur and some Easter décor. On a book shelf I found “Build Your Own Home Theatre”, “Potatoes not Prozac”, “Men’s Health Advisor 1994”, “The Summons”, “The Year the Light Came On”, “Promenades en France” and “Thinking Out of the Box”.
Outside I found, before they were covered up or moved some oversized cookie jars in the shape of some sort of knock off Puffin Fresh and some cheap Halloween decorations. Not for sale but of note here were the various awards from college fraternities and one of those hazing paddles. These objects were shielded from the coming downpour.
I bought a wireless mouse for a dollar. I’m not sure if it works.

Halloween figure awaiting soaking rain.

Chia dino safe from the rain.

Oxford Rd. Emory – “Multifamily Sale”

This sale was on the arts listserv. Because of the rain most of the stuff here was crowded into a claustrophobic room that may have been a garage at one time. Most of the stuff in this room was electronics , music items and some books. One of the sellers was very helpful as I was seeking a new hard drive for my older Mac. But her possibly useful recommendation that entailed buying a big raid drive and taking it apart seemed too complicated to me. In another room which I was led into then left alone in with the door closed, was larger but equally claustrophobic. Here I found clothing, some more musical stuff, roller blades and some art supplies. They had closed the door not to trap me but to keep their cat from escaping.
While the sale was a bit confusing the sellers were very nice. I bought nothing.

Rocky Ford - Kirkwood “Yard Sale”

On the way to the Dekalb Farmers Market I stopped by this sale in back of a small frame home. Here three people sat nonchalantly as the rain drizzled on their goods. Among the wet stuff was a fancy coffee maker, clothing, shoes, roller blades, a baseball mitt and a five foot tripod projection screen. In a box of books I found Two Honda Civic repair manuals, a selection of romance novels and “The Autobiography of Henry VIII”. Next to the books was a box of business and self esteem CD sets that included
“The Uncommon Leader”, “The Psychology of Success”, “Swim with the Sharks”, “Thriving on Chaos”, “The Winning Woman” and “The Road Less Traveled”.
I bought nothing but admired the seller’s attitude towards the weather.

Box of wet footwear.

Sussex Rd. - Avondale Estates ”Yard Sale”

This sale represented the final attitude of dealing with the rain. There was no sale but simply a pile of wet goods on the curb.
I didn’t even get out of the car.
Discarded remnants of a rained out sale.