You could spend hours on the internet trolling eBay, Craigslist and Oodle Marketplace for bargains, but real treasure hunters know that if you want to discover the unexpected, you need boots on the ground and hands on the merchandise.
Otherwise, you might miss that unsigned oil painting that happens to be covering a long-lost Rembrandt or a decades-old original Chanel tweed jacket that the owner assumed was a fake.
Ready to start looking? On Sept. 7 and Sept. 8 you’ll have your chance at The Big Grab, a yard sale spanning 50 miles through the Midlands towns of Blythewood, Ridgeway and Winnsboro, and everywhere in between.
“Most of the vendors will be concentrated in the three towns, but they can set up anywhere on the road along the route,” said Susan Yenner of the Winnsboro Chamber of Commerce. “We expect a lot of people to utilize the 12 miles between Ridgeway and Winnsboro, for instance.”
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According to Yenner, vendors run the gamut from local families looking to offload old dishes, artwork, yard tools, holiday decor, furniture, antiques and other gently used items to wholesalers selling mattresses, bedding and socks.
“It’s a great time to either stock up or clean out your garage,” she said with a laugh. “If you’re buying, the sale has gotten better. It’s so big, that everyone waits until now to sell their things.”
Shaped like a bottom-heavy figure 8, the sale route runs along both sides of I-77, covering mileage along Highways 321, 21 and 34 with a turnaround in Winnsboro near Highway 200.
Expect hundreds vendors, who will have set up along the road and within parking lots, yards, churches and old storefronts. There will also be vendors indoors this year, where they’ll be able to operate in air-conditioned comfort.
Don’t forget about the regular shops and boutiques within each town, many of which will be running sidewalk sales during the Big Grab. There will be plenty of food available, too, from local restaurants and food trucks.
“It’s really pretty fun, and you never know what you’ll find,” said Steve Steve Hasterok, director of Conference Center and Events with the Town of Blythewood. “It’s organized, too. There will be bathrooms, food trucks and Richland County sheriffs on hand to keep traffic moving.”
How to get a bargain
As hardcore yard sale shoppers know, getting a bargain isn’t for sissies. Veterans rely on these tips:
▪ To make it more convenient to bargain (and easier on the seller), bring cash in small denominations. Whipping out a $20 bill to pay for a $3 item that you bargained down from $4 doesn’t look good.
▪ These days, some vendors might accept Venmo, so be sure to download the app to your phone before you leave home.
▪ If you’re shopping for something specific, like a rug, artwork or clothing, bring sizes and dimensions with you, as well as a tape measure. Bungee cords and plastic bins will help you get items home safely.
▪ Bring your own bags, preferably with long handles so you can carry your purchases over your shoulder.
▪ Check items for odd smells, like cigarette smoke or too much Febreeze as well as tears, chips and discolorations.
▪ Shop carefully for baby items: standards change often for cribs, car seats and toys.
▪ Know your designers. If you’re on the hunt for, say, a Louis Vuitton bag or a Tumi suitcase, study up on the tiny details that set real items apart from fakes. Who knows — you might just uncover something special.
If you go
The Big Grab yard sale
When: from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 7 and from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept, 8.
Where: Blythewood, Ridgeway, Winnsboro and everywhere in between
Get prepared: For maps and information go to biggrabyardsale.com.