Shoppers from near and far spent time this weekend in search of clothing, household items and vintage treasures at the inaugural Take A Break From the Interstate three-day Road Market Sale. The 70-mile long sale was designed to boost traffic along the historic route of U.S. 21 and promote economic development through tourism in the towns along the way.
“I like how everybody’s using 21 again,” Amy Swift said. “[On Friday] there were cars out here from New York, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia and Florida.” Swift owns a local business, Swift Automotive, in State Road and was thrilled to see the great response from folks coming out to the area to travel the historic highway and find a bargain or special keepsake.
Larry Carter had a booth set up in State Road with a variety of antique items and he was thrilled about the opportunity.
“This is wonderful,” he said. “You don’t have to go to a flea market and pay a fee to set up. It’s just a good thing. I think they need to have it twice a year.” His booth featured “old stuff” he said he been collecting for more than 40 years.
In Jonesville, there were also a number of booths set up selling antiques, clothing and other household items. Vendor Joyce Coe said she was glad for the cool temperature on Saturday morning and she was happy to be a part of the 70-mile sale.
“I just think it’s special because it’s a good opportunity for people to find a good bargain, it even beats the Goodwill,” she said.
A shopper from Winston-Salem, Julie Turner, said that a good deal was exactly what she was looking for at the sale. She and a friend had read about the event and decided to check it out.
Shoppers in Jonesville also had a chance to enjoy some unique cultural cuisine prepared by Noel Torriente. A native of Cuba, Torriente had a booth set up in the parking lot of the old bowling alley and was out there early on Saturday morning with chicken on the grill. He also had Cuban-style pulled pork and rice and beans for sale.
In addition to drawing tourists from other areas, the 70-mile sale was also a great adventure for local residents. Jonesville resident Patricia Meadows said she made a whole weekend of it.
“We started across from the bowling alley [Friday] where Larry and Peggy Brown were selling. We went all the way to Wytheville to this great big beautiful house at the end of the way that had a yard sale and it was just wonderful,” she said. “We bought us a corn hole set. I bought some boots and it was well worth the trip. We had a wonderful day.”
Meadows was out again on Saturday enjoying the State Road portion of the sale that she missed on Friday.
Vintage sign and toy dealer Angie Swaim said that people really seemed to be enjoying the sale. At her booth, “Done Been,” they were able to reconnect with some old friends and memories of the past. She said that vintage toys were a popular item. On Friday she nearly sold out of Star Wars toys and GI Joes.
“It takes you back to your childhood and people love to have the toys either they had as a child or they were never able to afford as a child and they love it,” she said.
While shoppers and sellers were all enjoying the first-ever 70-mile U.S. 21 Road Market Sale, a number of vendors with booths in State Road had some strong words of disapproval for organizers in the town of Elkin.
Within Elkin town limits, residents were asked to purchase a $5 yard sale permit in order to participate. Businesses along U.S. 21 in Elkin with a current privilege license were permitted to participate at no extra charge, but if a business was allowing others to set up in their lots, the vendors had to contact the town for a permit.
In Jonesville and State Road, there was no charge to set up a booth to participate in the event.
“Elkin’s ridiculous for charging when they want folks to come (to) downtown Elkin and to boost their business,” Swaim said. “Nobody along the stretch of highway 21 is charging anybody except for Elkin and it’s pitiful.”
Swaim said she grew up Elkin, attended high school at Elkin High and had many fond memories of eating at Royall’s and seeing movies in Elkin. She said she would love to have supported the town by having her booth there. With the success she was seeing at her booth and other booths set up in State Road, Swaim said she felt that the town of Elkin really missed the boat by trying to charge for participation.
“When you want to bring businesses into your downtown to boost your economy, you don’t, in an event like this, turn around and hurt yourself and unfortunately that’s what they did.”
Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.