The concept, a copy of the “World’s Longest Yard Sale,” is likely to only boost regional tourism; partnering with the state’s more visited cities could lead to more meaningful long-term growth.
The World’s Widest Yard Sale is returning for a second year, and it’s stretching out to new towns.
Ron Sparks, director of the Alabama Rural Development Office, said hundreds of vendors are expected to participate in the event May 30-June 2. Like the first year, the yard sale will stretch along U.S. 80 from Cuba on the Mississippi line to Phenix City on Georgia line. Due to the popularity of the event’s first year, Sparks said towns near, but not on, U.S. 80 are getting involved this time around. They include Troy, Greenville, Monroeville, Camden, Prattville and Pike Road.
“We’ve spread this thing along more miles of central and south Alabama,” he said.
Selma Mayor George Evans said no one knew what to expect the first year, and he’s not surprised more towns want to get involved.
Vendor locations include church parking lots, volunteer fire departments, community centers and antique stores. A list of sites is being updated regularly on the yard sale’s website.
Sparks, the state’s former agriculture commissioner and the 2010 Democratic nominee for governor, helped organized the first yard sale in 2012 to get people to visit and spend money in small towns along U.S. 80 that don’t see a lot of tourism. His goal is for folks to spend three days, with plenty of time to shop, eat and visit historic attractions, from the home of the Tuskegee Airmen to civil rights sites in Selma.
“It’s one of the most historic routes in the state,” he said.
Evans said attracting tourist dollars is one reason Selma got involved the first year and signed up for the second year. “It’s a better way to see your city,” he said.
Sparks said the World’s Widest Yard Sale is copied from the popular World’s Longest Yard Sale, which stretches from Addison, Mich., to Gadsden, Ala., each August.
“We want to bring thousands into this region for it to become like the World’s Longest Yard Sale,” Sparks said. ” You can’t get a motel room when they have that.”
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Photo credit: A man sits with a sign from the first "World's Widest Yard Sale" in 2012. Worlds Widest Yard Sale