Businesses expecting sales boost from 100-Mile Yard Sale

Friday, May 22, 2009
People flock Thursday to the large number of vendors at the intersection of highways 25 and 77 on the first day of the 100-Mile Yard Sale. The sale will continue through Monday. (Kit Doyle)

The opening day of the 100-Mile Yard Sale couldn't have come soon enough for Sam's Restaurant in Advance, Mo.

The event marks the busiest time of the year for the restaurant, when business increases by as much as 60 percent.

"We're excited whenever the yard sale comes to town," said night shift manager Glenda Smith. "People enjoy it because everything is so cheap. Last year we noticed things were a little slower because of higher gas prices, but we're expecting increased sales this year."

A number of hotels, restaurants, antique shops and other businesses near the 100-mile route say they see increased sales during the annual event, which began Thursday and ends Memorial Day.

The yard sale started in 1999 when Ellen Lowe, who traveled to many trade shows and flea markets, started compiling contact information from the dealers and realized she could bring the trade market to Highway 25. The first year she invited all the dealers and footed the cost of marketing herself. Now area chambers of commerce combine to sponsor the event, which runs from Jackson to Kennett, Mo.

Andrew Brown, 8, checks out knives Thursday on the first day of the 100-Mile Yard Sale in Delta. (Kit Doyle)

In previous years, the sale has been promoted with fliers that were distributed throughout the region. This year the chambers of commerce created the website 25yardsale.com, which has information about lodging, restaurants, shopping and locations of specific yard sales.

Dexter, Mo., Chamber of Commerce executive director Janet Coleman believes the website will reach more people, and she hopes that will pay off for area retailers.

"It's important to promote the chamber and business as much as possible," Coleman said. "Anytime you bring business to a community with out-of-the-ordinary events, it's a good thing. "

Coleman began receiving yard-sale inquiries in early January from people as far away as Wyoming. People from several states always attend, she said, and she expects this year to be no different.

"With the economy the way it is, we expect to see more people visiting and setting up this year," Coleman said.

Jackson Chamber of Commerce executive director Brian Gerau said that while the website has given the sale a boost, he believes word-of-mouth is the most effective advertising tool.

"The fact that it stretches 100 miles gives people so many options to shop and spend their money, which boosts sales for businesses in different communities," Gerau said. "People are always looking for something cheap, and garage sales are very popular. Combining the garage sales into one four-day event is a great deal."

Since the yard sale began, Fiddler's Fish House in Dexter has offered an all-day buffet on Friday and Saturday, increasing its business by 20 percent. This year the family restaurant added its own yard sale.

Manager Toni Brown said seeing locals and out-of-town visitors makes the experience enjoyable.

"We've had such a big turnout for the buffet that we thought we might get the same results for a yard sale," Brown said. "We figure if they can come in and eat, they might as well check out what we have to offer at the sale."

In addition to restaurants, the lodging industry also sees an increase in business.

Town House Inn in Jackson reported it was nearly full, with guests from Chesterfield, Mo., Illinois and Ohio booking rooms. Desk clerk Pauline Neiswonger said that it receives calls from shoppers a few months before the yard sale begins.

"It's like digging through your old attic," Neiswonger said of the sale. "There's no telling what you'll find at each stop."

Diane Warren, co-owner of Wildwood RV Park in Dexter, expects to have 15 more campers because of the yard sale. Most camp a week, she said.

Her favorite part is meeting new people at the RV Park.

"We really enjoy seeing so many new faces," Warren said. "Economically it's a great value for them. And while we see new customers we also see some that come back each year."

However, people do need to careful driving on Highway 25.

Sgt. Dale Moreland of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said two to three motor vehicle accidents occur each year during the 100-Mile Yard Sale, an above-average number for that section of roadway.

Moreland said motorists should leave plenty of space between each other on the road.

"Don't shop from your car," Moreland said. "People sometimes are looking off at the items at the yard sales when they should be paying attention to the road.

"We've had several accidents over the years where people see something they like, slam on the brakes and stop in the middle of the road," Moreland said. "People need to use common sense and we wouldn't have as many accidents."

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

Pertinent addresses:

2104 N. Outer Road, Dexter, MO

517 E. Jackson Blvd., Jackson, MO

1104 W. Business U.S. 60, Dexter, MO

104 S. Blair St., Advance, MO

125 E. Main St., Jackson, MO

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