5 tips for the longest flea market in the world

Sometimes all you need is a rhinestone mannequin. Or a WWII era gas mask. Or a memory of your childhood: dolls, games, lunch boxes, VHS tapes.

Even if you only need everyday items – crockery, jewelry, bras, saws, fishing gear, shoes, etc. – you will most likely find what you are looking for at the world’s longest flea market. The 2022 event runs Thursday, August 4 through Sunday, August 7 and spans 690 miles through six states, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan.

The route begins in Gadsden, Alabama and travels 93 miles along the Lookout Mountain Parkway, then follows Highway 127 from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Addison, Mich. She is officially known as 127 Sale. Check out the website here.

The number of vendors on the route is expected to be fewer this year as the pandemic forced its cancellation in 2020, but organizers say there will still be more than 2,200 vendors along the route – at one point there were up to 5,000. Some people drive the entire route and stop to stay in hotels or RVs. Others go to the nearest part of the route for the day. Either way, it’s a fun outing, even if you’re just browsing through the weird things people have for sale.

Stuffed squirrels for sale at the world’s longest flea market. (Kelly Kazek)

It’s not like anything you’ve experienced. You’ll drive a little, and maybe walk a little, until you come across small roadside villages at varying distances, filled with dozens of stalls full of bric a brac or maybe treasure if you’re craving a car-sized Sinclair dinosaur or stuffed squirrels Rowing a tiny boat with tiny oars.

Some tips:

1. It’s hotter than Hades, at least in the southern states. Prepare! You should have plenty of water, cool clothes, a hat and light clothing. I always carried a neck cooler and a spare t-shirt, even on day trips.

2. You have to get in your car and drive through some areas where there isn’t enough curbside for stalls or where no one has rented space. You will still walk a lot. Be sure to wear comfortable but cool shoes like hiking sandals.

3. Bring cash. A few long-time providers have Square or other credit card apps, but most only take cash.

4. There are small food stalls in some of the larger “flea market” areas and there are a few restaurants along the route. But since the next available space for food is unpredictable, pack some snacks that won’t melt in your car.

5. Make room in your car to bring treasures home!

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