Like crabgrass, the Fourth of July Mile Long Yard Sale has been spreading over Hagerstown’s North End for years, devouring more side streets off Longmeadow Road, drawing thousands of bargain-hunters and turning residents into entrepreneurs for a day.
“We’ve lived here nine years, and this is our ninth year participating,” said Jon Phelps, sitting under a canopy Wednesday outside his Longmeadow Road home.
“It’s a very good opportunity to get rid of unwanted items that need a new home.”
Planning for the sale is a year-round effort, Phelps said. He sets aside a basement corner to store belongings that become merchandise for the sale.
They also rent space in their yard to other vendors, Phelps said.
At the end of his driveway his son, Garrett, 12, and Shelbi Robinette, 12, and 11-year-old Payton Smith were learning about free enterprise, selling water to shoppers.
“This morning is good. This afternoon will be better,” Shelbi said of the thirst-building temperature and humidity.
Several shoppers said they planned to complete their expeditions before the serious afternoon heat hit.
Vendors set up before the crack of dawn, and shoppers like to get an early start for the best selection, but a morning thunderstorm got some off to a late start.
“We were going to get started at 6 a.m., but because of the rain, we stayed in,” said Ken Hege of Mercersburg, Pa.
Nevertheless, by 11 a.m., he and his wife, Bonita, had a push cart filled with goods.
Bonita said they have been coming to the sale for about eight years. She and other shoppers said they think the Mile Long Yard Sale likely now covers several miles.
The throng of shoppers also turned the streets into a multimile-long gridlock of cars edging past pedestrians pulling carts, pushing strollers or lugging cumbersome purchases.
Although they live in the sale zone, Lee and Lori Viar opened their yard to shoppers for the first time.
“We jumped on the bandwagon .... We’ve sold a lot of stuff, really,” Lori Viar said.
Children Loraine, Ashley and Robertson pitched in to make it a family affair.
A boat, firearms, tools and vehicle parts were up for sale in one yard on Olde Waterford Road.
Douglas and Lori Gaylor, who live west of Hagerstown, were selling from a friend’s yard, with daughters Nicole and Brooke peddling cold drinks.
“The drinks are moving great,” Lori said.
So were the other items, she said.
“It’s surprising what people will buy,” Lori said.
Driftwood lamps in one yard. Electric keyboards in another. A steering wheel in yet another.
R2-D2 from “Star Wars,” or a reasonable facsimile, stood along Longmeadow Road looking for a new home.
Among the curios in one yard were “It’s a Wonderful Life” dolls, including George Bailey and Angel 2nd Class, Clarence Odbody from the popular Christmas movie.
Rose Thatcher saw nothing she needed, but plenty she wanted. The Maugansville woman bought a ceramic duck, a Victorian lighthouse and an antique children’s rocking chair.
She was accompanied by relatives, Becky Knotts of Boonsboro, who landed a $6 quilt, and Melissa Law, whose purchases included a stuffed frog for her son, Liam Henson, and a sword of unknown origin.
“I was looking for stuff for my college apartment,” said Teri Keller of Hagerstown.
“And mom has to pay for it,” said mom, Brenda Keller.
“I’ll pay you back,” Teri said.
Teri purchased a desk, microwave and waffle iron, along with some knick-knacks.