By Wendy Byerly Wood firstname.lastname@example.org and Beanie Taylor email@example.com
In spite of the threat of rainy weather, sellers and shoppers filled Historic U.S. 21 through the area beginning early Friday morning, and stayed the course through Sunday, with sunny weather taking over Saturday and Sunday.
Bright yellow push-in signs featuring the Take a Break from the Interstate website and the U.S. 21 road sign, along with homemade yard sale signs, alerted potential shoppers that sales were to be had from Wytheville, Virginia, south through the tri-county region to Harmony.
Although there were some stretches without sellers throughout the route, much of Hwy. 21 was filled with pockets of vendors displaying a variety of merchandise from brand new items still in original packaging to antiques both well-loved and nearly forgotten.
Some stops were individuals set up in their own front yards, however even these usually invited other families to join them on a single property. One location containing a handful of sellers but an extensive variety of products was in Jonesville where Sharon Lankford sold her paintings and other things next to her friend Susan Rhoads, who sold all natural homemade products from Doterrra essential oils along with Susan’s husband Terry with his outdoor items.
“It was her idea,” said Lankford of Susan. “She thought it would be a good way to sell her own products. It’s very good stuff.”
“It’s not really a business,” said Lankford. “I just have fun making stuff. Most people don’t have time to make their own.”
In the Hamptonville area, east of I-77, Sissy Smith and John Campbell of Ronda were getting some help from another young shopper, Wilbert Addir of West Virginia, in tying down a patio swing to the top of their car Friday morning.
Smith said the duo hits Hwy. 21 each year looking for “odds and ends.” “I usually look for patio furniture, and he looks for tools. We went south this morning, we’re going north tomorrow,” she said.
This wasn’t Amber Harris’ first year setting up along Hwy. 21, but it was her first time selling from her parents’ location. Karen and Perry Wagoner invited her and her niece to set up at their driveway, which was shaded by trees and had plenty of grass area for shoppers to pull off the roadway.
“This was all Rebecca’s idea,” said Harris’ sister, Leah Williams of Yadkinville.
Her teenage daughter, Rebecca, decided she needed more room in her closet, so she set up selling her clothes along with a few other things her mom pitched in at the sale.
“We knew we’d have better traffic here, because we don’t live on 21,” Leah Williams said.
For West Yadkin Baptist Church, which is in Hamptonville next to the U.S. 421 interchange with Hwy. 21, the weekend was an opportunity to raise money for church projects as well as giving people who don’t live on 21 an opportunity to take part in the weekend’s profitability.
“I enjoyed shopping so much last year, this is our first year setting up [to sell],” said Jayne Wright, who with her husband Randy was manning a community yard sale spot they rented in the church’s parking lot for Friday and Saturday. “This is my parents’ stuff. They lived in their house 60 years, and this is the stuff they couldn’t take with them to Pennybyrn in High Point when they sold their house.”
Friendship seemed to be as much the motivation for where people chose to set up shop as any other consideration. At Emerald Styling in Sparta, Donna and Donald McCraw had a large space to spread their wares thanks to the generosity of their friend and business owner, Robin Bugielski.
“We usually have a yard sale here about twice a year anyway,” said Donna, explaining they decided to choose this weekend not only because of the 100-mile sale, but because of an abundance of items.
“Every time I [have a yard sale] I say it’s going to be the last time,” she said, “but you see where I am. It’s just a lot of work [for the amount of money made].”
The work started early for many vendors. Kristin Poplin and her young assistants were setting up in State Road before the sun rose Saturday morning. “We made money instead of spent money this year,” said Poplin, who normally makes it a point to visit the coast during the market to avoid the traffic.
“If I can’t fight them, I’m going to join them,” said Poplin, who seemed to be enjoying her time with her daughters and niece, Asia McGee.
“It’s been fun and tiring being with my family,” said McGee.
J’Lynn Poplin agreed, “The coolest thing is the kids coming up to look at the books and sharing my love of reading with them.”
In spite of the hard and early work involved, some individuals particularly enjoy the process, making purchases from one place to sell in another in a process known as picking. The road market is an excellent place for pickers to both buy and sell.
“You get to know what people like, both buying and selling,” said Jehanna Niccloy, who considers herself “a collector of many things,” along with her husband. “You get to learn a lot of history,” said Niccloy. She was looking forward to the day when her 2-year-old daughter can join her.
“She’s going to learn the value of a dollar,” said Niccloy, who added meeting the people and hearing their stories is one of the best parts of picking next to, “that rush you get [when you find] that specific item you are looking for.”
The road market seems to be a good place to find just about anything. “[There is] a good mixture of stuff from high-end items to things that are just a few dollars,” said Niccloy, who was set up at the Elkin Antique Mall in downtown Elkin where shoppers were eager to share their experience.
“There was a local resident who went the whole thing,” said Niccloy of a buyer who spoke to her Saturday. “He thought there wasn’t as much of a crowd as last year. There didn’t seem to be as many vendors.”
The number of individuals did not necessarily indicate the success of the road market, however. According to Teresa Houston of the Elkin Antique Mall, Friday sales were higher than Saturday, although there seemed to be more people on Saturday. “We were trying to count, but we just couldn’t keep up,” said Houston. “People were coming in both front doors and the back door and there were people who didn’t come inside at all.”
“You meet a lot of nice people,” said Donald McCraw, describing individuals he met on Friday who had traveled half the market and were inquiring about hotels so they could finish on Saturday.
Unfortunately that description did not apply to everyone. Although most drivers seemed to realize they would need to be more aware of pedestrians as well as other vehicles, some were witnessed stopping in such a way as to cause other vehicles to come to a halt in the midst of oncoming traffic. In spite of accidents and near misses, the road market seemed to be enjoyed by most people, encouraging visits to restaurants and other businesses as well as the street vendors.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.