I stood on the side of a dirt road somewhere east of Van Wert, Ohio, and surveyed the massive yard sale spread out before me, one of several huge bargain-hunting events on my hit list. Before me was a grassy field dotted with white tents, hovering over rows of tables laden with … well, from this distance, I couldn’t say exactly what. But I hoped for a piece to add to my collection of charmingly mismatched green glassware. And hey, a garage sale in a field in rural Ohio might have exactly what I was looking for.
Under the tents, I found all manner of totchkes and relics: Amish-theme romance novels and urban legal thrillers, kids toys and soccer trophies, yarn and beads for crafts, workout gear, and stacks and stacks of clothing. In boxes below the tables, I found plenty of glassware (dusty Mason jars and Grolsch bottles and cut-crystal brandy decanters), but it was all too utilitarian to fit my grand decor vision. No matter: I could see another garage sale sign just up the road. And if that one didn’t pan out, another 1,000 or so sales awaited, thanks to Ohio’s annual Lincoln Highway Buy-Way event (August 7-9 this year; historicbyway.com).
As the daffodils and tulips start to bloom across the Midwest, so too do large-scale garage sales and flea markets. Bargain hunters, antiques aficionados and DIY decorators, we’re heading straight into prime shopping time. Here are three more great places to chase down your own missing piece (or just boost your collection of Mason jars).
Old National Road Yard Sale This massive yard sale along the Old National Road (US-40), running east-west from St. Louis to Baltimore, fires up over the first weekend of June. The heart of the action is on Indiana’s Antique Alley, between Greenfield and Richmond, where dozens of antiques dealers (and more than a few homeowners) set out clothes, decor, furniture, cars, boats and more. May 28 to June 1 this year. (765) 478-4809; oldstorefrontantiques.com/yardsale
Allegan Antiques Market Expect to find well-curated collections of high-quality dressers and dining room tables, Depression and milk glass, costume jewelry and Star Wars figurines. All goods sold at the market must be out-of-production, so you’re guaranteed to find true antiques. The market runs the last Sunday of every month, April to September in the Allegan County Fairgrounds in Allegan, Michigan. (616) 735-3333; alleganantiques.com
Brownville Flea Market More than 300 vendors line Main Street of Brownville, Nebraska, to sell plants and garden sculptures, farm implements, girls’ tutus and hair bows, and vintage ceramics. Concession stands vend fried food, but we recommend the town’s only restaurant, The Brownville-Lyceum Cafe. May 24 to 26 this year. (402) 825-3992; brownville-ne.com
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