A community spring cleans for first-ever ‘giant yard sale’

March 28, 2009

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Ever since Spirus Roach, that wizened settler said to resemble a possum, inspired native tribes in the early 1800s to dub our little settlement Shook-huttah-tom-a-hah -- Opossum Town -- Columbus has rather enjoyed its lighthearted association with the waddling marsupial. Even then, pioneers and traders passing through knew a good bargain when they saw it.  


On April 4, even the near-sighted opossum will have no trouble finding treasures for his lair at a communitywide happening named in his honor -- The Giant Possum Town Yard Sale. An eclectic fiesta of more than 35 pre-registered vendors will fill the Hitching Lot Farmers'' Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to sell everything from artwork to horse tack. 


"We really feel the Giant Possum Town Yard Sale is a great way to kick off so many wonderful activities and functions occurring in our community this spring," said Amber Murphree, manager of Main Street Columbus, who, along with the Hitching Lot Farmers'' Market board of directors, is presenting the giant yard sale. The poster for the event to benefit the Farmers'' Market was designed by local artist Larry Feeney, retired Mississippi University for Women art professor.  


"This will be the one time of the year items can be sold at the market that aren''t ''locally grown, made or conjured up,''" Murphree pointed out.  


"It''s the perfect way to recycle!" said Farmers'' Market board member Anne Freeze. "Recycle your unwanted items and let someone else reuse them." 


Midge Maloney is just one of many sellers anxious to do just that.  


"I think this is going to be fun," the Columbus woman enthused. "We''ve got lots of things that are in really good shape to sell -- housewares, clothes, purses, shoes, a vanity chair. ... This is a great opportunity." 


According to Murphree, very few vendor spaces are still available. All vendors must be pre-registered and can contact Main Street Columbus at 662-328-6305 for more information.  




For a good cause 


Several community groups are using the sale as an opportunity to not only be part of the camaraderie but to raise money for non-profit or charitable causes. Debbie Stacy and her friends on Weyerhaeuser''s Relay for Life team are scouring attics and closets, and soliciting items from company employees for their booth.  


"We''re still gathering items, but we''ve already got some interesting things like framed prints, candlesticks, a rolling pants rack, wall sconces, lamps, glassware and even some American Tourister luggage that we''ll sell to help boost our donation to the annual American Cancer Society Relay at Magnolia Bowl April 24," Stacy said.  


The Weyerhaeuser teams have raised about $16,000 for Relay over the years and are determined to do whatever they can to keep this year''s donations up, even in a tough economy.  


One stop for the budget-minded connoisseur might be the Columbus Arts Council''s booth. As one of the non-profits taking advantage of the sale, they will be gleaning finds from storerooms and art bins to add to items donated by board members and patrons.  


Hungry shoppers won''t be overlooked. Farmers'' Market board members will man the grill, serving sausage biscuits in the morning and sandwiches and hot dogs for lunch. Soft drinks and water will also be available for purchase. 




Benefit raffle 


The Giant Possum Town Yard Sale is the first opportunity to buy $10 raffle tickets to benefit the market. The annual drawing takes place May 9 at the Farmers'' Market Celebration Saturday. At least 23 tempting items are up as prizes, including a $50 gas certificate, a fig tree from Smith''s Landscaping, a basket filled with local honey, stained glassworks and much more.  




Palmer Home pickup 


Main Street Columbus has arranged for Palmer Home for Children to be on site with a truck April 4 to accept donations at the event''s end so vendors won''t have to haul away what didn''t sell, unless they wish. And while they can probably relieve you of Uncle Charlie''s coat rack or Sissy''s old rocking chair, they won''t be able to take toys, electronics or computers.  


With the Columbus Pilgrimage''s Artisans Alley just a block away at the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center and other simultaneous events in town, organizers are hoping April 4 will be a beautiful day for families to come out to take advantage of each entertaining activity.  


"I still have and use daily the very first item I purchased at a yard sale about 40 years ago in Memphis," said Farmers'' Market board member Beth Imes, who plans to be a well-stocked vendor and an earnest shopper as well. "It''s an Elizabeth Post Dusting Powder tin. Can''t say which is more fun -- having a yard sale and getting rid of unnecessary items, or going to one on a Saturday morning and coming home with a new treasure." 


One can only guess what old Spirus Roach would think of the inaugural Giant Possum Town Yard Sale. But, as a shrewd fellow himself, you have to think he''d approve. And, just maybe, knowing the trading post named for his distinctive visage still carries the nickname nearly 200 years later would surely produce a wry, possum-like grin.

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.