Documentarians Chronicle World’s Longest Garage Sale Trail from Michigan to Alabama


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Photo: Filmmakers Riley Hooper and Katrina Sorrentino

Photo: Filmmakers Riley Hooper and Katrina Sorrentino

Two documentary filmmakers lived our dream last week when they chronicled the “World’s Longest Garage Sale” on film. Riley Hooper and Katrina Sorrentino spent four days exploring the ins and out of the 690-mile sale that stretches across Tennessee. Hooper gives us details of the journey and describes one comical morning when she woke up to garage sale shoppers rummaging for steals near her camp site.

“An object is a perfect vessel to tell a story,” Hooper says. “A love story, a personal history or childhood nostalgia. That’s fascinating to me — that this inanimate object that you wouldn’t otherwise look at is a way we can know each other’s stories.”

By reaching out to buyers and sellers on Facebook, the crew of two filmmakers and two sound engineers planned a route and talked to as many people as they could in four days.

“When we realized we had a few good characters from Jamestown, Tennessee, we changed our route to spend a full day there,” Hooper says, remembering one Elvis impersonator who was an intriguing interview subject and a reason they stayed in town longer. They even camped out near a sale along the trail and woke up to find early bird scavengers picking through vintage items on tables above their sleeping bags.

Most people were interested in sharing their stories and talking about how their wares could be “another man’s treasure.” The crew filmed their stories and is in the process of editing footage. They plan to submit the finished film to festivals around the world, funded by donations on Kickstarter. With this film, Hooper is continuing her interest in all things salvaged (she has also made a documentary about a yard sale in Los Angeles.)

A teaser from another film Hooper made.

“We just started talking to people,” Hooper says about getting folks to open up. “It was eye-opening to see how many people wanted to share their personal stories. Anywhere we stopped there was always someone who had something interesting to say.”

One woman in Michigan was selling her mother’s old quilting material and sewing machine. She told Hooper about her mother’s health and how she wasn’t able to quilt anymore, then described her childhood memories of watching her “mean-as-a-hornet” mother make beautiful patterns in the fabric. She cherishes the quilts, even though the quilting gene wasn’t passed on to her.

“The idea that everyone has a story is really true,” Hooper says.


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