A man with blue suede shoes was strummin’ an electric guitar at the corner of West Maple and Earnest Street on Saturday while droves of shoppers walked the Tree Streets in search of cheap goodies. The annual yard sale is the perfect environment for the most experienced shoppers and sellers.
As Elizabethton native and three-year Tree Streets Yard Sale attendee John Merritt talked about the oversized wagon full of drinks and snacks that he pulls around to haul purchased items, his wife, Billie, brought over a gray wooden door that she had just bought. Knowing that it would be quite an obstacle to carry it down the street, they left it there and promised to pick it up later. There was much more ground to cover and bringing the door along would definitely slow their pace.
“Me and my wife look forward to coming over here and going up and down the streets and getting our exercise in while maybe finding a few treasures,” he said.
In their fourth hour of shopping, the Merritts had picked up several books and lighting fixtures that they’ll use for repairs at their rental homes. They saw many unique items along the way, including a jukebox and surveying equipment, but when it came time to buy, Merritt looked to name his own price.
“I always have something in mind what I’m going to pay for it,” he said. “If their price is a little higher I’ll try to get down to what I want to pay for it. If they don’t come down I just leave it for somebody else.”
While the husband-and-wife duo continued to browse the makeshift tables full of random items, Janet Arrowood and Iva Wellman stuffed their new belongings into the trunk of a Pontiac. Wellman was tickled to find a set of sundae glasses for $1 each, while Arrowood smiled over her $5 cup made of cut glass that she says is worth more than $20.
As arms full of dishes, movies, clothes and toys were loaded into vehicles, the sellers counted their profits. Ginna Kennedy, at 428 W. Maple St., says the items sold by her and her husband, Andy, plus friends, totals about $400.
“We buy stuff and then we have to get rid of the old stuff,” she said. “Every year when this is over we say we’ve sold everything and next year we’ll have nothing, but then we always have a giant pile of stuff. We just have a yard sale spot in our house and we save the stuff.”
Jenny Stonecipher helps her stepmother sell Avon products in front of the white home beside Kennedy. They’ve been selling so long that they know exactly what items to bring and can make close to $1,000. This year may have been even more fruitful, as they saw an even larger crowd than usual.
“I would love to know how many people have been here today because we couldn’t hand it out fast enough,” Stonecipher said. “My husband says it’s the economy and that more people will be out needing more things at less money. We’ve sure seen the people, that’s for sure.”
Overall, the Tree Streets Yard Sale gets a big thumbs-up from residents and shoppers. It’s a one stop shop for buyers and a moneymaker for those willing to set unwanted items along the sidewalk.
“It’s all here in one place,” John Merritt said. “Instead of going to one garage sale here and then driving another 2-3 miles to the next garage sale, you can park in one place and get plenty of walking in. You also see people and visit. It’s just a good time.”
The Tree Streets Yard Sale is put together by the Southside Neighborhood Organization, which will host a celebration and Music in the Park event today. The free concert, featuring roots/folk group Doc Bonhomie, will be held from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. at Veterans Park next to South Side School.