Downtown Yard Sale Provides Big Boost to Local Economy

Economic success stories are hard to come by in today’s economy, especially in small town main street communities like Berryville. Yet, in spite of the tough times, the Downtown Yard Sale was a resounding economic success. Reactions from the crowds and downtown merchants was wholehearted approval for the event. Beautiful weather and tremendous vendor turnout created an environment that drew hundreds of people into downtown Berryville who were spending money in the local economy.

Shoppers browse for yard sale treasures - Photo Mike Dowling

Town of Berryville Recorder, Jay Arnold spearheaded the effort to reinvent what turns out to be a forgotten tradition in Berryville. He described the genesis of today’s event saying,”In the 90s the Berryville/Clarke County Chamber did the downtown yard sale as a fund raiser. They had a spring yard sale and a fall yard sale, and then it transitioned into the Fall Festival of Leaves. We used my lot (Berryville Auto Parts), the firehouse and Broy’s lot and we rented table space, for $10 a space and the chamber got the money.”
The yard sales ceased altogether about ten years ago. However the downtown merchants have been working to revive the local economy and worked together to come up with a re-invented version of the downtown yard sale.
Jay Arnold, said he worked with Peggy White who owns Tastee Freeze, and Sherry Craig who owns Sweet Peas to come up with an approach that would draw people, not just downtown, but into downtown businesses.
“We wanted some way to get people in every business, so we didn’t charge anything for vendors to set up tables.” Tables were set up outside participating businesses and each business paid $30 and put up a twenty five dollar door prize. It was an idea that appealed to the downtown merchants.

Books and other items lined the streets of Berryville - Photo Mike Dowling

“A yard sale doesn’t benefit every type of business so we hoped to get maybe twenty businesses to participate and we ended up getting fifty,” Jay Arnold said.

Huge crowds choked sidewalks and stymied traffic as drivers who were unaccustomed to dealing with so many pedestrians in the downtown area struggled to navigate through town. Jay said promotion was a key to the success. “We made posters, flyers to handout, and advertised the event in places where yard sale enthusiasts would see it.”
In addition to great deals on tables full of chachkis and what not, the event included over 40 door prizes. Tickets for door prizes were available in each participating store. Downtown visitors simply had to get their ticket from the store and drop it in the box for prize drawings. Winners did not need to be present to win but they would have to pick up the prize in the local business that provided the prize. “Our goal with every part of the event was to get people to visit downtown businesses,” Jay said.

Merchants were ecstatic about the increased foot traffic downtown. Glen Masters, proprietor of the Berryville News Stand, said he had done twice his typical Saturday business in half the time, adding “It’s incredible.”

Ellis Chapman of Blossman Gas told us, “We have had more in store traffic today than we’ve had in the last two weeks combined.” He also said that the walk in traffic had generated significant sales and leads.

Based on the success some theorized that this should be a monthly event, but Jay Arnold was quick to point out that it took a lot of work to pull off and added that, “If we held it too frequently it would loose it’s effect.”

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  1. I am glad the merchants event was a success, but must say I am very disappointed that I did not get to participate. I had reserved an area for the day of the sale to sell gourmet baked goods. I read the following day in the Winchester Star, that food and bakery items would not be sold at the event, in order to encourage foot traffic to visit the local businesses. I called and left a message, cancelling my reservation and gave the reason for it. I then find out that food sales were allowed, along with baked goods, beverages, etc. I am very disappointed that I was not allowed the same opportunity as others, simply because I chose to follow the rules. I am a small business and wanted to get my name out and this would have been the perfect opportunity. However, instead, I was left out, fell upset that I followed the rules and others did not, and confused that no one returned my call if indeed food sales were allowed.

  2. It was so very nice to see such a vibrant downtown! More food samplings would be awesome.

  3. sargewillis says:

    Fantastic day, thanks to the Jay Arnold and his wife for all the work putting it all together. Now if we could do it on a yearly or even bi-yearly basis that would bring much need publicity and business back to Berryville.

    • Thanks for the great comments, however it is important to recognize all the people that actually worked very hard to plan this event. It was Peggy White of Tastee-Freez of Berryville that actually had the idea and she was the lead person in this project. Sherry Craig of SweetPea’s Childrens Shop and myself worked with Peggy to help organize the event. Rick Jacobs, Wayne Taylor, Buddy Craig, Lawrence White, Carolyn Arnold, Sally Levi and Will Dellinger helped to setup the morning of the event. John Lyttle provided the music and announcements. And, most importantly the 48 businesses that sponsored and supported this event.

  4. Cheryl Fraterrigo says:

    Looked at all the nice pictures of all the direct shots of buildings but did not see one of the Tastee-Freez or Tastee dog who was walking around Any reason why?

    • It’s an obvious conspiracy against Tastee Freeze, no maybe ice cream, no against the downtown community. There should be congressional hearings as to why every square inch of downtown was not represented equally…

      Good grief. How about thanks for covering this great event? And thank you Charles Twigg for the photos.

  5. Susi Bailey says:

    Congratulations on a job well done! & great event coverage. Let’s hope this is the beginning of something big! Berryville can get folks to come downtown.

  6. Sandra Stickovitch says:

    Kudos to everyone who made this wonderful event such a success. It was so great to see the town of Berryville buzzing with so many people.

    If this grows in popularity, this event could become another Rt 11 Yard Crawl! Imagine the amount of people that would bring into the town!

    Again, wonderful job!

  7. This was also similar to Purcellville’s Town Wide Tag Sale. Maybe the neighborhoods in town could hold their community yard sales on the same day, like P-ville does, it’s always a HUGE turnout.