Friday, October 18, 2013

Totally Texas -- Hitting historic highway’s trail of treasures

If there’s a prize for being the queen and crown princess of repurposing stuff, it belongs to my daughter and me. Actually, we’ll wait until the real owners of the titles tire of them and tote them to the curb for trash pickup. Then we’ll swoop in and grab.

Still, I can hardly believe it took us so long to find the Historic U.S. 80 Hi-Way Sale, coming up again this weekend, October 18-20.

The sale literally covers the verges of U.S. 80 from Mesquite eastward through Louisiana and Mississippi. But since this blog is only about Texas, my daughter and I only did a day long road trip as far east as Longview on our original foray last spring. (The sale is held twice a year, the third weekends of April and October.) We cheated a little, too, by stopping in towns instead of completely rural areas. But when dealing with a sale hundreds of miles long, pacing is everything. Well, that and cash.

My daughter volunteered her husband to stay home with their seven-year-old twin sons, but depending on age and interest level, children can handle shorter portions of the drive. Or so I judged from the numbers of families with children we saw along the way.

We began our quest with lunch in the East Texas town of Mineola. Highway 80 runs through downtown Mineola, with streetside parking, non-chain family-friendly restaurants, and stores crammed with everything used, antique, vintage and retro. We made subsequent stops in Gladewater and Longview.

A couple of blocks south of 80 in Gladewater, we found a full-fledged street fair, surrounded by a street of more traditional resale shops, including Gladewater Books (see “Indie bookstores live in North Texas” at this site). We ended in Longview’s Greggton neighborhood, with merchandise overflowing from a local shop. This fall, I’m heading for the Terrell Garden Club’s plant sale Saturday at the corner of Highway 80 and Frances Street in downtown Terrell.

The Hi-Way 80 Sale is a wonderfully disorganized event. The East Texas portion of U.S. 80, originally part of a 1920’s era coast to coast highway, is now largely rural and relatively slow-moving. Small towns are close together, at least by Texas standards, making it easy to find food, fuel and ATMs as needed. (Some vendors accept credit and debit cards, or checks.) Everything, of course, is sold as-is.

For more info, including merchandise peeks, see “Hwy 80 Sale” on Facebook or

There’s a map, but I wouldn’t bother downloading it. There’s also no official list of vendors. This weekend’s weather looks great, so just drive.

(Next Friday, graves of the famous and infamous make for a ghoulishly good tour through Texas history.)

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