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The Tree Streets Yard Sale thriving as late-summer regional attraction

September 7th, 2013 10:12 pm by Tony Casey

The Tree Streets Yard Sale thriving as late-summer regional attraction

The Berry-Owen lemonade stand of W. Locust St.


It’s all good in the Tree Streets of Johnson City. 


On Saturday, the neighborhood neighboring East Tennessee State University had its annual Tree Streets Yard Sale.


The day was highlighted with out-of-towners and locals alike coming in to snag those deals, charities and good causes getting extra donations and attention and the neighborhood landing some revenue to continue with their visitor-friendly features.

Check out video and pictures of the yard sale below.


Yard sale organizer Kathy Serago, of 700 W. Locust St., said of the event, “the shoppers are out and getting the bargains,” and that it was the busiest one they’ve had in 24 years. 


She said that because of the sale, and the donation fees of the people who had items for sale, they were able to pay for a variety of expenses. These expenses included pet waste bags for dispensers around the neighborhood, which collectively totaled more than $2,000 last year, money for the Music in the Park series, which includes free lemonade, water and popcorn to those who attend, advertising for the yard sale, the 4th of July parade and donations to various causes, including a new playground for a neighboring church.


Since the yard sale had been moved from summer race weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, she said the number of attendees went from around 30,000 to about 20,000, but the success of the entire event has gone unchanged.


Serago, when asked how to keep coming up with new items to sell every year at her residence, said she likes to cycle in different organizations to sell from her spot. This year, she went with the Johnson City String Orchestra, and was getting help with sales from a few friends and a trusty sidekick, Peanut the dog.


The police have a little bit larger than usual presence during the yard sale, she said, and parking laws are enforced, but there are never really any problems with the event.


John Merritt, and his wife, Billie, have been coming to the sale for four years now, and have changed their personal protocol after the first year. They said they used to freestyle their way through the area, but now keep a cart in tow to bring coolers of water and to drag around anything they might buy.


The Merritts’ focus changes from year to year, but a typical search of theirs is for cheap supplies for their rental properties, and they typically have success in finding these items. Not to mention the exercise they get in, walking around from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.


Per usual with yard sales, available items can run from vehicles to tchotchkes, and everything in between. One set of larger available items was sitting in the back of a truck and was owned by Ralph O’Dell. He had three wooden statues, carved from aspen by the hands of an 81-year-old Native American living in Colorado, and they were priced to move. As much as it pained him and his wife to put them up for sale, O’Dell said he needs to free up the extra space.


Another cause reaping the benefits of the yard sale is the upcoming Walk for ALS at Warriors’ Path State Park. Physical therapy students from ETSU’s class of 2015 were selling items so that profits could go to the event.


Ruth Stevenson, one of the organizers of their team, used their prime West Locust Street position to collect items from faculty and staff, members of churches and friends to sell Saturday.


Stevenson said it was the first time she had her own yard sale during the event, but had walked around and purchased things plenty of times.


“Just make us an offer, and we’ll talk,” said Stevenson’s classmate Jess Hoerr. She and Stevenson said they were trying to be as negotiable as possible, and move items so they could make as much money as possible for their cause.


For the things that don’t sell Saturday, there are options for people who want to get rid of the leftovers. Serago says there are options for the leftovers to be donated to Good Samaritan, Haven of Mercy, Salvation Army and Goodwill. These organizations can be contacted for pick-ups.



Additional Photos

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