If you've ever wanted to explore the highways and byways of the south while doing a little shopping, the Highway 11 Yard Sale is the perfect excuse. Treasure hunt along the back roads of Appalachia each May at the sale, which is often just called the "Hwy 11 Yard Sale" or "The Happenin." It occurs annually from Thursday to Sunday the weekend after Mother's Day in May.
While the route and experience are similar every year, there are always new vendors and opportunities for finding terrific deals. With 502 miles of roads to cover, there are always new towns, hotels, restaurants, and clubs to explore.
The annual yard sale event, which began in 1997, runs along more than 500 miles of U.S. Highway 11, from Meridian, Mississippi, to Bristol, Virginia. Along the way, it passes through five states and cities, including Birmingham, Alabama; towns in Dade County, Georgia; and Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee. When it first began, the event was just three days long. In 202, 252 miles were added to the route, so the festival extended to four days.
Planning a Trip
Plan your trip by visiting the official website and printing out a copy of the route map before you go. The website also features linked pages for each town along the route where you can find specific suggestions for restaurants, hotels, and local attractions. Kingsport, Tennessee, for example, boasts a huge collection of antique shops, while other venues offer special food tents, public rest stops, and more. You'll also find information about exactly where and when to find vendors. Don't forget to check for events such as flea markets, carnivals, and festivals that are often held in conjunction with Highway 11 event.
Shopping and Selling Tips
As you pass through cities, watch for signs pointing the way to off-highways sales and local flea markets. Keep an eye out for tent and group sales in fields and parking lots. In addition to individual sellers with yard sale goods, the event attracts flea market and antique vendors.
If you want to sell your wares at the US 11 Antique Alley & Yard Sale but don't live on the route, you can rent space at numerous points along the way, including parking lots, empty lots, and even private lawns.
Beyond the Antiques
Although antique-shopping is the main pastime for people visiting US 11 Antique Alley and Yard Sale, a significant number of towns along the route hold events in tandem with the yard sale. While you never know what might be on the docket for the upcoming year, previous events include:
- Concerts: In the past, a number of towns have hosted local or state-known bands. For example, in Kingsport, Tennessee, revelers have been treated to Blue Edition, a bluegrass band composed of East Tennessee State University students and alumni.
- Festivals: The Iris Festival is held often held in Greeneville, Tennessee, in conjunction with the Yard Sale. The event includes arts, crafts, a kids' corner, storytelling, woodcarving exhibits, and food for sale. In Eutaw, Alabama, you might find the "On the Courthouse Aquare" Trade Days event, with arts and crafts, baked goods, and food.
- Auctions: Looking for something a little more exciting than an antique sale? Look for antique auctions like the one that's been previously held in Athens, Tennessee.