Editor: As one of the multitude who took in the so-called “70 Mile Yard Sale” last weekend, a few observations come to mind. In an article in The Guardian, one of the organizers called it “a pretty amazing success” (The Guardian, Sept. 25). I would agree with that assessment in terms of the huge number of bargain hunters who flocked to the many sites along the way.
The yard sale’s success, however, was largely aided and abetted by the summer-like weather conditions for those two days. Had it been anything like the cool, windy and damp few days that followed, the turnout would certainly have been considerably lower. If fact, the success of this event over the years since its inception can be related to (mostly) fortuitous weather conditions at the time. Mid- to late September can be very unpredictable (and unfavorable) for outdoor events.
But that aside, and not to “diss” this popular event, the high volume of vehicular traffic it generates creates the proverbial “accident waiting to happen” scenario. You see cars suddenly stopping, turning or pulling in to or out of parking spots along a very busy highway. You see people suddenly emerging from their vehicle and/or dashing across the road to get to one of the sites, and so on. Fortunately, as far as I know, no serious accidents or incidents have happened to this point.
Another noticeable drawback is the lack of washrooms. The few that are available and accessible at commercial sites are overwhelmed, especially for the ladies, as the day progresses.
I know there are logistical and additional cost implications, but perhaps organizers could consider having strategically placed portable toilets set up, say at some of the multiple vendor sites.
As far as places to eat are concerned, it seems to me here is an opportunity lost. Oh, there is the odd enterprising location where one can have a hotdog or some such “fast food” equivalent, but nowhere, in my experience anyway, is there a sit down place that offers more “regular” fare for the hungry (and weary) hoards.
Only if one ventures to the far southeastern extremes — Murray Harbour and Murray River — can you find such establishments.
One prominent and prime location in the aforementioned “opportunity lost” category is the Belfast Consolidated School. In years past, they did indeed make the facilities available for local vendors as well as sell lunches and other refreshments. This was an ideal “one stop shopping” location, as it also provided ample parking and, most importantly, fully equipped washrooms.
No doubt the reasons for not opening up the school in the past few years have to do with related costs, health regulations, liability considerations, volunteers, etc. Pity. If you were to travel the entire route, with all the stops along the way, you are looking at the better part of a day, so rest and refreshment areas such as this are very important.
One final thought: Since the event has now spread in a westerly direction from Vernon River as far as Stratford, perhaps they should rename it the “100 Mile Yard Sale”, or, more correctly, the 160 kilometres Yard Sale.