GALION — As executive director of Ohio Lincoln Highway Historic Byway, Mike Hocker’s office is right in the middle of Galion. So, coincidentally, is part of the Lincoln Highway.
To say Hocker would like his hometown to be better represented on the Lincoln Highway’s most high-profile event is an understatement. This year’s Lincoln Highway Buy-Way Yard Sale is Aug. 11, 12 and 13.
This will be the 12th year for the event, and thus far, Galion has not embraced the sale as wlll as other communities across the nation’s first coast-to-coast highway.
“We’re missing out.” Hocker said. “Not just those who have things to sell. I mean, if you are planning a yard sale, why not take advantage of the people traveling the Lincoln Highway looking for things to buy.”
More sales in Galion may also mean a little more business for local restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, etc.
“Those people are traveling all day in search of bargains,” Hocker said. “They’re going to have to get gas. They’re going to want something to drink. They’re going to get something to eat.”
Hocker travels the 241 miles of the highway in Ohio on sale weekend each year. He’s keeping an eye on different communities and what they do during the weekend. He’s also looking for bargains, as are the hundreds of other shoppers out and about during the annual event.
“They’re driving around with fists full of dollars,” Hocker said. “They are doing this because they want to buy. So I don’t know why you would have your own sale on any other weekend.
The Buy-Way Yard Sale is hard to get out of your system once you experience it.
Just ask Deb Jeffers.
“I do it every year,” she said. “Mike (Hocker) always points me in the right direction so I know what communities to visit. One year he told me to go to Van Wert. That year that were two of those sales in Van Wert, the Lincoln Highway Buy-Way and the U.S. 127 Corridor sale. I’ve never seen anything like that. I had a Ford Focus. It was completely packed by the time I got home.”
Jeffers said she finds something to buy every year. But she has more fun, it seems, meeting new people and experiencing new places.
“There’s a lady over by Jeromesville, who each year has food for sale,” she explained. “Brownies and stuff like that and fresh vegetables. Anyway, one time we were talking and she took us out to her barn, where they were working on two old tractors. It smelled just like when I was growing up.”
Jeffers has toured old churches, old barns and other buildings, which are added bonuses to the treats and other treasures available at any of the stops along sale route
“Each year it gets larger,” Hocker said. “I thought by now we would level off, but it keeps growing.”
He said last year there were 1,367 sales across the state. Some communities have dozens of sales.
Galion has three big sales: one by the Galion Historical Society, one by the group that is working to operate and restore the Galion Depot, and one by First Lutheran Church.
“We’ve had other people who had sales, but for whatever reason, a lot of Galion people are missing out on a great opportunity,” he said.
And if you don’t actually live on one of the Lincoln Highway roads, it’s pretty easy to find someone who does, and you can infringe on their property. Some communities have a church or a park or a big farm where space is available to sell stuff.
“There could be dozens of sales in one place,” Hocker said
Hocker has been promoting the Lincoln Highway for years. He said it’s got a lot more going for it than the more famous Route 66, which garnered part of it’s fame thanks to TV.
“The Lincoln Highway has so much more history,” he said. “And we’re not taking advantage of it they way we could.”
Hocker can talk about the virtures and the history associated with the Lincoln Highway for hours.
But for this one weekend each year, he’s selling dreams and opportunities.
“Every year you hear stories about people buying some kind of treasure, paying dollars for it and then finding out it was worth so much more,” he said. “If you’re a college student trying to furnish a dorm or a room, you can do that for a fraction of what new stuff will cost and you can do it in a day or two.”
Jeffers one-upped Hocker in that regard.
“You can furnish a whole house in one weekend,” she said.
Hocker’s group puts out a brochure/pamphlet each year that is available along the Lincoln Highway and points readers to some of the traditionally, more popular sites, such as Van Wert, or Wooster. The pamphlet also points you to some of the best places to get a bite to eat along withe way, such as the Hot Dog Shoppe in East Liverpool or the Spread Eegle Tavern in Hanoverton.
Also, the group has website historicbyway.com that offers plenty of information about the sale. It also will have a searchable database that shoppers can use if they’re looking for specific sale items.
Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. If you have a comment or a story idea, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.