LYONS - A 60-mile yard/barn/garage sale, stretching across three states, rolling along suburban lawns and rural pastures, could turn an old highway into a new "buyway" for six days in June.
Dave Blesing, a history buff from Fulton County, is out and about these days, peddling his plan and passing out flyers from Sylvania to Fremont, Indiana.
Mr. Blesing is a modern-day Johnny Appleseed of sorts, planting an idea and hoping it grows.
His plan is simple: Pass the word about an event that could be tough to pass up. Residents. Businesses, churches, organizations. Entire communities. Everyone is welcome to participate, to come along for the ride.
Called the Historical Old Territorial Road 60-Mile Yard/Barn/Garage Sale, the event is being embraced with enthusiasm, said Mr. Blesing of Lyons.
If the multiple-mile sale, set for June 21-26, is "half as successful as it could be, it will create more traffic than the old road has seen in a long, long time," he said.
An Ohio Historical Marker near the post office in Berkey in western Lucas County describes the Old Territorial Road as the "earliest improved public road west from Lake Erie to the Indiana border."
Built in 1834-1835, the road ran parallel to the Harris Line, the northern boundary of a narrow strip of land contested by Ohio and Michigan from 1803 to 1836, when Ohio annexed it after the Toledo War. The road became the Indiana Plank Road in 1848 and later known as Sylvania-Metamora Road, according to the marker.
Rosemary Ott, who serves on Berkey's plan commission, said the sale sounds like a "great idea."
"It could be better than unlimited pickup," she said.
Ms. Ott lives a mile off the historic road, but with an old leaky boat to get rid of, she just might borrow space from a neighbor whose property abuts the "buyway."
Such a sale, Ms. Ott said, could bring a slew of visitors to the area.
Drawing attention to the region, to its history, and to its communities, is just one reason why Mr. Blesing is promoting the idea of the sale. Mainly, however, it's a people thing.
"Garage sales have become an addiction for some," he said. "They provide a form of entertainment for others."
That's why an annual 450-mile yard sale in sections of several states, including Kentucky, has been "fabulously successful," said Jeff Gordon, a professor of geography at Bowling Green State University, who has studied flea markets and garage sales as part of his on-
going interest in "anything fun."
"Garage sales have become part of our culture," he said, allowing people to sell unwanted items and make money to offset the cost of buying new stuff.
Garage sales too give people a reason to get out of the house and interact in a socially acceptable way, he said.
Some people scurry to garage sales because they love to talk; some like to travel and learn about different places. Others get giddy over the possibility of finding a wildly valuable treasure for a mere quarter, Mr. Gordon said.
Along another historic old road - U.S. 40 in southwestern Pennsylvania, also known in places as Braddock's Road because it is the route Gen. William Braddock followed to reach Fort Pitt, where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers flow together to form the Ohio River - a similar yard and garage sale is carried on across two counties each fall.
Mr. Blesing said old barns, old buildings, and old attics along the Old Territorial Road here are also likely filled with this, that, and the other thing; odds and ends just begging to be hauled out and sold.
"We tend to be accumulators," Mr. Blesing said.
Stephanie Mossing, finance controller for Morenci, Mich., said that the 60-mile sale is a "wonderful idea." Flyers are posted in the city, and people are talking about the sale, she said. The historical road winds right through Morenci, she said, noting that west of the city the highway is known as Territorial Road as it heads toward Indiana. The sale's starting point is in Sylvania.
Other than passing out flyers, Mr. Blesing is taking no extra steps to rally buyers and sellers. "I do not want to make it a big promotional event," he said. "I want it to be just a fun thing that happens."
Contact Janet Romaker at: email@example.com or 419-724-6006.