published Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Shoppers along Dixie Highway Yard Sale braking for bargains

Salvador Arriola dries off objects after rain moved through the area on Old Dixie Highway. The Dixie Highway Yard Sale continues through Sunday.
Salvador Arriola dries off objects after rain moved through the area on Old Dixie Highway. The Dixie Highway Yard Sale continues through Sunday.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

IF YOU GO

The Dixie Highway 90-Mile Yard Sale runs along U.S. Highway 41 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Sunday. It starts in Ringgold and passes through Tunnel Hill, Rocky Face, Dalton, Resaca, Calhoun, Adairsville, Cassville, Cartersville, Emerson, Acworth and Kennesaw before ending in Marietta.

RINGGOLD, Ga. — Robert Martin wielded his chain saw with finesse Friday afternoon.

Just as Michelangelo saw a statue in every block of marble, Martin was teasing out the eagle he saw inside a log, making sure not to cut away too much of his raw material.

"Once it's gone, it's gone. It's all about controlling the saw," Martin said as he stood alongside Old Dixie Highway near Cherokee Valley Road.

He also knew, from past experience, that the spectacle was likely to entice a few drivers to stop and shop.

"People want to see them wood chips fly, I guess."

Martin, whose chain saw-carved wares include birds of prey, cigar-store Indians and black bears holding "Welcome" signs, was among scores of vendors lining U.S. Highway 41 for the Dixie Highway 90-Mile Yard Sale, which runs through Sunday.

Stretching from Ringgold to Marietta, the 7-year-old event "is a way to get people off the interstate," said Regina Wheeler, deputy director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Wheeler said her Cartersville office has "received thousands of phone calls" from yard sale vendors and aficionados about this year's event.

"A lot of the businesses and residents along the way do open up spaces," she said. "We've had a lot of calls for hotel rooms."

But the yard sale hasn't had much effect on downtown Dalton, where U.S. 41 morphs into Thornton Avenue.

"We don't really see much of the yard sale," said Veronica French, director of the Downtown Dalton Development Authority.

She guessed that's because most drivers take the bypass that routes them around downtown.

Capt. Kelly Holcomb with the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office said he didn't anticipate any yard-sale-related traffic snarls.

"I don't recall us ever having any problem," he said.

While it's hard to tally the economic impact the loosely structured event has on the 13 communities it encompasses, previous yard sales have been good for Martin. These days, his chain saw art brings in more money than his day-to-day plumbing business.

"I can't make a living plumbing anymore," said Martin, who specialized in plumbing newly constructed homes, which are in short supply in the current economy.

The yard sale had a positive economic impact for Susie Newton, of Chatsworth, Ga., who had spent a total of $2.25 on three cookbooks at around 11 a.m. Friday.

"Two of those, they sell for $29.95 [new]. I got it for $1. That's news," she said.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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