Peaches to the Beaches draws thousands of bargain hunters

wcrenshaw@macon.comMarch 15, 2014 

Annual yard sale brings huge crowd to downtown Perry

PERRY -- When the Peaches to the Beaches Yard Sale started 10 years ago, downtown Perry had one parking lot with about 20 vendors, but it looked a lot different Saturday.

The event has grown each year and is now a 200-mile bargain hunter’s paradise. On Saturday, there were 150 official vendors in the downtown area and about that many more scattered all around the city, said Sheila Jones, director of the Perry Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

The key to its success, she thinks, is the economy.

“I think everybody is looking for a bargain, and treasure hunting is always fun,” she said. “People are thrift shopping more and more these days.”

No streets were blocked in the first couple of years, but half of the courthouse square was blocked off Saturday. It was packed with all kinds of vendors, including arts and crafts vendors, many food vendors, and folks just decluttering.

T.J. Bridges of Perry and her son, Zack, had a tent set up in front of the courthouse where she was selling off some household items she no longer needed. She has been coming to the event for years but this was her second year selling.

“I cleaned out my whole house because I am just the complete opposite of a hoarder,” she said. “If it ain’t nailed down and I haven’t used it in six months, it’s out the door, baby. And I will sell it cheap because it ain’t going home.”

She said the sale is a boon for Perry’s economy.

“Last night I went to go grab us some Chinese food in town, and the place was packed,” she said. “I cannot how believe what the giant yard sale brings to this town. People are everywhere.”

Kimberly Wynn of Perry was making her first visit to the sale. She hasn’t been able to come in the past because she is general manager of the Cracker Barrel, but she happened to be on vacation this week.

“We get a big increase in business from this,” she said. “I just can’t imagine what they are going through this morning without me.”

She bought a coffee maker for her mom for $5.

The event, organized by the Golden Isles Parkway Association, is the brainchild of Evelyn Simmons, president of association when the event started.

She thought of it after going on the World’s Longest Yard Sale that runs from Alabama to Kentucky, and believed it would be a good way to spur tourism along the mostly rural U.S. 341 from Perry to Brunswick.

Jones said it has definitely achieved its goal. She estimated that there are thousands of vendors along the route. Each community has its own areas with many vendors, then there are others all along the highway.

“It’s a huge economic impact for the whole Golden Isles Parkway,” she said. “It has definitely been a great impact for the communities. We are seeing a lot of overnight stays.”

Each year the event is held Friday and Saturday on the second weekend of March.

Jones said this week she spoke to people from Michigan, Miami, Fla., and Canada who came just for the yard sale.

From Perry to Hawkinsville, there were yard sales about every half mile or so, and in some places there were several within a mile or less.

Kindal Smith, of Vienna, and her mom were set up just outside of Hawkinsville trying to unload some excess belongings. They were hoping to use the proceeds to buy a sewing machine. It was third their year selling.

“We enjoy it,” she said. “We come to the same spot every year.”

Kim Brown, executive director of the Hawkinsville-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, said there were about 150 vendors at the city’s official sites, which is about triple what it was when she became involved seven years ago. She said all of the hotel rooms in the city were full.

“It’s a huge economic impact as far as sales tax revenue,” she said.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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