U.S. 50 isn’t as famous as Route 66, but it’s got one thing going for it: the Great U.S. 50 Yard Sale.
It’s exactly as it sounds — sales of all kinds stretched along the 3,000 miles known as “The Loneliest Road in America.” The Friday through Sunday event runs through mostly rural areas and small, older towns from Salisbury, Md., to San Francisco.
Part of the sale is Saturday and Sunday in Cañon City’s Depot Park. Salida also will host a sale at Collegiate Peak Bank, and Montrose will close off three blocks of Main Street for multiple sales. Find a complete list online at route50.com.
“You have a win, win, win,” said Tom Taylor, who founded the event in 2000 in Jennings County, Ind. “It keeps things out of landfills, and it’s people who put extra money in their pocket and then usually spend that money locally. It’s like cookie jar money. Also, it has big bargains, particularly for young families looking for clothes and furniture.”
The idea was born from a city council meeting Taylor attended where tourism was discussed. He walked away thinking the typical person didn’t understand the personal benefits of tourism and could only see the upside for restaurant and hotel owners. He decided to start something that could help the average Joe, and the pre-Memorial Day weekend yard sale was born.
“People look forward to it,” said Dee Stubbs, who coordinates the Depot Park sale. “It’s not just your typical yard sale, like a typical garage sale. It brings in crafters, jewelry, woodworking. It’s a variety of so many different things.”
Taylor doesn’t keep tabs on who’s doing what and where, though he does field questions from prospective sellers, such as whether they have to host the sale all three days (no, they don’t) and if Taylor can list the items each sale will have on the U.S. 50 website (no, he can’t).
Stubbs and Cañon City have been part of the project for nine years. About 500 people meander through Depot Park each spring for the sale, scouring antiques, homemade birdhouses, clothing and more from 60 to 70 vendors.
“I love it,” said Stubbs, who also owns Dee’s Pace, a custom embroidery and screen printing business. “Seventy-five percent of vendors started nine years ago and are still coming. It makes a nice amount of money.”
Taylor, who’s now 70, doesn’t think about the sale too much anymore. He’s not even one for garage sales these days: “If I go to two or three a year, that’s a lot.”
But he is pleased with the outcome and surprised it’s lasted this long.
“I most enjoy hearing back from some family who says they made $1,500 and they really needed it,” he said. “They got rid of junk; others bought antiques. That’s the thank you.”