Hometown History: PeachTree 23- A 44 mile Yard Sale
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Ridge Spring, SC (WJBF)- The PeachTree 23– 44 Mile Yard Sale is an unusual event to say the least. It was created 17 years ago by a woman who later became the mayor of Ridge Spring.

In 2006, founder Pat Asbill, along with her son and her husband decided to check out the world’s longest yard sale. Asbill was impressed and the idea for PeachTree 23 was born.

“So we made it 20 miles on this 200 something mile yard sale, because there were so many things out there to see,” said Asbill.

The 127 Yard Sale was started in 1987 to encourage travelers to bypass interstate highways in favor of more scenic routes. The hope was that travelers would experience what the small towns along the way had to offer.

Named after the highway it runs along, the yard sale spans nearly 700 miles, and six states from Michigan to Alabama.

Absbill’s son, Patrick Arnold, said it was impressive.

“We love treasure hunting and yard sales. Thrift shops. Trying to find- it’s the thrill of the hunt if you will for that thing. So we made it up to Chattanooga and didn’t make it very far before we realized we ran out of room in every vehicle we took,” he explained.

Asbill and Arnold talked about it and thought a large yard sale was a good idea that could help their struggling town.

Asbill took the idea to her longtime friend Harriet household.

“We got home, exhausted and two trucks full of stuff. I’m telling you, I’ve never seen so many bowls in America. They’re everywhere. So, we got home and Harriet Householder and I decided we could to a town-wide yard sale.”

Householder told Asbill to count her in. She told Kim Vickers she felt it was something Ridge Spring desperately needed.

“But we needed something to attract more people to the businesses, because we wanted businesses to come. Pat and I both had businesses and we were not doing that well,” Householder said. 

Asbill said the town yard sale was a success so they decided to go all the way. She and Householder went to the cities of Batesburg-Leesville, Monetta, Modoc, Edgefield, Ward and Johnston to pitch their idea.

“And we went to each town and said ‘Please do this with us.’ And everybody was excited about it. And it’s grown to be the biggest thing that each town does, almost. Except for their individual festivals,” Asbill stated.

Once everyone was on board, they had to get funding and jumped right in, not knowing where to start.

“We started out with this big grandiose idea that we were going to get all this money from state parks and recreation. So we would go to every meeting. We’d go to anything anybody put out there. So we were at all these things, only to find out that you really had to have your senators or your representatives right there on board with you. And we left them out of the process,” laughed Asbill.

The 44 mile PeachTree 23 is different that the 127 Yard sale, where vendors set up along the highway. The PeachTree 23 is set up in each town because Highway 23 is lined with peach orchards.

Arnold explained that is how it got its name.

“And we had Highway 23, which heads right through Ridge Spring. And  figured we’d name it the PeachTree 23 because we’re known for peaches in our region and Highway 23. And it had sort of a ring to it. So PeachTree 23,” he said.

Over the years the yard sale has grown larger with even more people attending. They estimate about 24,000 cars come through the town each year.

Asbill said hunting for treasure bring people from all over the country.

“We have people who come here from Florida. We have a man who comes here- he does a route. He is based in Santee and he comes here from Massachusetts just do do this yard sale.”

Arnold believes that a big reason the PeachTree 23 has been so successful is the relationship between his mother and Householder.

“My mother and Harriet had a lot to do with the planning and the work put in,” Arnold said.

Anyone who spends even a few minutes with Asbill and Householder can see that they have a great time together, laughing and cutting up.

“Well, Harriet is an unusual person to work with. She will take on anything. And we call ourselves ‘partners in crime,’” smiled Asbill.

“We went to Clemson to a meeting that were were so excited. We were gonna get ten thousand dollars to help with our town. We were going to do- oh all sorts of things. And we sat in that meeting and we sat in that meeting. We kept waiting and waiting. And finally they said ‘Now y’all want this. remember, you have to have matching money. And she and I burst out laughing. We weren’t supposed to, but we started snickering. We said ‘What? What? We can’t do this,’” Householder laughed remembering.

For Asbill, dealing with people while organizing the yard sale is never boring.

“One morning at 4:00 I was in my kitchen- I have a big window in the kitchen- and as I turned on the light, there were two men standing there. And they had been in a fight over the space. One person was in the other person’s space  3 feet or something,” Asbill said.

Over the years she thinks she has gotten a good handle on what items will sell and which won’t, but says sometimes she is surprised.

“One of the most successful young ladies that we’ve ever had here- she drove up that morning, early on a Saturday morning, and she unloaded in her space all these baby clothes, all baby toys and just everything baby,” Asbill explained. “And I thought ‘Oh my heavens. She’s not going to sell any of that.’ By 10:00, every bit of it was gone. Every bit of it. So I had to eat my words.”

And there are always people with strange items to sell.

“We have a man who has brought a statue of liberty, about, what, 8 foot tall statue of liberty. And he brings a cannon. So he brings some very different, odd things,” laughed Asbill.

Asbill said that at first no one knew how big the yard sale would be and that it made for some funny stories, especially of one family, who set up at their a house along the route.

“This particular family, the parents had passed away and they didn’t know what to do with the items. And they didn’t really know how big this was going to be,” said Asbill. “So, they put some things in the front yard, but as the sale went on, they were selling everything that was in the front yard. So, they started passing stuff out the windows and tossing stuff out. So, they sold everything in the house.”

The PeachTree 23 is an important part of Asbill and Householder’s lives.

“I can’t imagine us not doing it. It has really become a fabric. And I’m originally from Ridge Spring. And this has helped, I think, bring a lot of people together,” smiled Householder.

“I feel like it’s my baby, along with these other two people who’ve helped me bring it along,” Asbill said.

The PeachTree 23 has a huge economic impact on participating towns. According to Asbill, one vendor made $5,000 in one weekend, and the town businesses thrive too.

“In fact, our businesses tell us they do more business in those two days, than they do any other time of year, including Christmas. So it has really benefitted our town,” said Asbill.

Asbill and Householder agree they are about ready to pass on the reigns to someone else.

“With the fact that Pat is no longer mayor, we’ll probably- she and I will probably step back a lot more,” explained Householder.

Asbill tells Kim Vickers, she doesn’t know who will take over Ridge Springs part of the PeachTree 23 when she retires from it.

However- her son has an idea on that.

“I feel a sense of duty. I was part of it from the beginning and have helped out a little bit throughout the years, but now I feel like it’s time to take this on and move it forward or keep it going,” said Arnold. 

So it looks like The Peachtree 23 will be around for a long time to come.

It takes place the first Friday and Saturday in June from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hey CSRA! That’s just part of your Hometown History.

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