Friday, August 18, 2000

To bargain hunters, this sale is paradise

Plenty of collectibles, plenty of junk

By Chris Mayhew
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Bargain hunters from across the country started what for some will be a 450-mile journey along the route of “the World's Longest Outdoor Sale.”

[photo] Homemade signs along Main Street point the way to the World's Longest Outdoor Sale.
(Michael E. Keating photos)
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        On the first day of the four-day sale which runs through Sunday along U.S. 127 between Covington and Gadsden, Ala., rain chased away many of the shoppers and some of the vendors at noon. But when the rain lifted more than an hour later, the sun brought some of the crowd back.

        Joyce Miller traveled from Medina, Ohio to find wooden items like chests for her hobby of decorative painting. She said she learned of the outdoor sale on the Home and Garden channel (HGTV), which aired a 1 1/2-hour special on the sale recently.

        She said she and her husband Art were looking for bargains and would stay somewhere along the route overnight and shop today before going home.

        This is the 14th year for the sale, which originated in Jamestown in Fentress County, Tenn. as a way to boost tourism and economic development in rural towns. Jamestown has a population of about 2000.

        One couple, from Russell, Kansas said they plan to travel the entire route searching for collectible cat knickknacks and cookie jars. They would have to limit their buying, they said, because of limited space in their Jeep Cherokee.

[photo] Billy Elkins, 12, of Southgate, works on a handmade bead necklace for sale at a stand in Covington.
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        Kellie Pittroff and Adam Stonebreaker of downtown Cincinnati stumbled on the sale while on a routine shopping trip to MainStrasse Village and decided to stay and shop the Outdoor Sale.

        “I love yard sales, my whole apartment is like a thrift shop” Ms. Pittroff said.

        Her favorite things to collect are religious items, but she said she likes to collect Elvis- and Marilyn Monroe-related items, knickknacks, and Art Deco items and '50s furniture.

        Mick Noll, owner of the Strudel Haus in MainStrasse, is participating in the sale as a vendor for the third straight year.

        He was selling a little of everything, including the kitchen sink. He was also offering an antique cookstove, and earlier in the day sold a bathtub, 8 feet-to-10 feet in diameter, for $5.

        Mr. Noll said there were at least 200 visitors and shoppers Thursday morning, including a group from Louisiana. He said it's best to get there early, because antiques dealers showed up early the first day and snatched some of the real bargains.

        Carol Crawford of Wilder was helping her grandchildren, Billy and Tessie Elkins, sell clay bead bracelets, and arrowheads wrapped in decorative wire. Ms. Crawford helped the children make the items over the summer to keep them busy.

        Ms. Crawford said she was looking for a place to sell the jewelry to help the children learn how to make a profit.

        “The children made enough already to buy items from other vendors,” she said. They bought a Reds baseball cap and opening day baseball, and a porcelain angel.

        Carl Gorrasi of Dent said people from California, Florida, and Michigan had visited his booth. He said he had some collectibles and lots of junk.

        “The best stuff is the stuff that sells,” he said.

        In her second year as a vendor, Little Breeze, owner of Red Earth Creations in MainStrasse, had her entire family pitch in to gather items to sell, as well as items from her store.

        “People are all looking for bargains,” she said.

        Little Breeze said most of the people who were looking and buying Thursday were retirees hunting bargains. She said over the weekend it will probably be a younger crowd.

        Donna Kremer, administrative coordinator for the MainStrasse Village Association, said people have come from as far away as Canada for the sale.

        “It's just great fun, and a chance for people to get together and talk,” she said.

        The outdoor sale runs through Sunday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day.


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