26-plus-mile Je­mez Moun­tain Trail Sale is all about shop­ping and com­mu­nity


Last year, one shop­per from Rio Ran­cho was thrilled to buy a tree stump for $5. Some­one else scored an RV. And dozens of other trea­sure hun­ters left with fur­ni­ture, toys and other trin­kets.

The Je­mez Moun­tain Trail Sale is a garage sale ad­dict’s dream come true with 26-plus miles of yard sales set up roughly along N.M. 4, start­ing in San Ysidro. This year’s 12th an­nual sale, sched­uled for Oct. 17 and 18, prom­ises another year of bar­gains.

“We’re pretty ex­cited,” said Heidi Downs, owner of the La Cueva Lodge. “It’s the best time for spring clean­ing. It’s a great com­mu­nity ven­ture, I think, and it gets peo­ple out here.”

Like many in the val­ley, Downs plans to sell and to shop.

“I get some great bar­gains, which is su­per fun,” she said, adding that she has her eye out for unique dé­cor for the ho­tel guest rooms. “Last year we got some great fur­ni­ture.”

The two ladies who first started the sale, orig­i­nally called the 26 Mile Trail Sale, had lived in Ten­nessee and were inspired by the 127 Cor­ri­dor Sale, also known as the World’s Long­est Yard Sale. That sale be­gan in Jamestown, Tenn., as a way to draw folks off the in­ter­state and onto ru­ral back roads. The sale now runs from five miles north of Ad­di­son, Mich., south to Chat­tanooga, Tenn., on U.S. High­way 127, then switches to the Look­out Moun­tain Park­way and con­tin­ues to Gads­den, Ala. — a to­tal of 690 miles through six states.

Space for all

The Je­mez Moun­tain Trail Sale of­fers the same in­for­mal shop­ping and com­mu­nity ex­pe­ri­ence. Sev­eral peo­ple of­fer space at their homes or busi­nesses for sellers from out­side the val­ley or for peo­ple whose homes are off the beaten path.

The WEEK­ENDS store in Je­mez Springs is one of those clus­ter lo­ca­tions, along with Aspen Ridge Al­pacas in Thompson Ridge, La Cueva Auto, Fitzger­ald Park in Je­mez Springs, the Wala­towa Visi­tor Cen­ter in Je­mez Pue­blo, Trail House Gro­cery, Liquor & Grill in Canon and oth­ers.

“The trail sale is a ter­rific event and just gets bet­ter ev­ery year,” said WEEK­ENDS owner Colleen Collins, who has been in­volved in the sale for years and sells Je­mez Springs T-shirts (“Je­mez Springs New Mexico – Just a lit­tle South­west of Nor­mal”) to help off­set sale pro­mo­tion costs.

“This year, in ad­di­tion to a wide va­ri­ety of yard sale type items, I ex­pect to have a woman wood carver with beau­ti­ful hand­carved items, a gem and min­eral guy, a food ven­dor with fry bread and chile, a woman selling her per­sonal col­lec­tion of fab­ric pieces, a friend selling a beau­ti­ful mo­tor­cy­cle and who knows what else,” she said.

Talty Robin­son, the co­or­di­na­tor of this year’s sale, has been work­ing hard to bring in more sellers and ex­pects there could be 100 peo­ple set­ting up shop on the road­side. There’s still time to con­tact a clus­ter lo­ca­tion or­ga­nizer and join the selling; in­for­ma­tion is avail­able on the sale Face­book page, she said.

Small-town feel

Robin­son and Collins ad­vised hard-core yard sale shop­pers from the city that there’s no need to head out at the crack of dawn.

“Don’t do that — you’ll be alone. It’s re­ally dark and cold,” Collins said. “It’s much more re­laxed than it is in the city. There are peo­ple that are set­ting up and adding more stuff all the time. Even on Sun­day there are still peo­ple who are putting up stuff.”

Robin­son said 9 or 10 a.m. would be a good time to start shop­ping. She warned peo­ple not to ex­pect a con­tin­u­ous line of sales along the en­tire route, but rather pock­ets here and there. And she sug­gested dress­ing in lay­ers and bring­ing along wa­ter and snacks. Of course, there will be folks selling baked items and other food along the trail.

Flo Yepa, owner of Sun & Fire Pot­tery House in Je­mez Pue­blo, will have peo­ple set­ting up to sell in front of her home along N.M. 4.

“We welcome ev­ery­one,” she said. “They can bring their art, crafts or what­ever they want to get rid of.”

Yepa said she’ll be selling food and “what I call my junk, your trea­sures.”

“I’m look­ing for­ward to it again this year,” she said. “It’s go­ing to be very in­ter­est­ing.”

The sale of­fers more than an op­por­tu­nity to bar­gain hunt and make a lit­tle ex­tra money. It’s a per­fect time to see the cot­ton­woods glim­mer­ing along the river and also a com­mu­nity event that brings to­gether neigh­bors and oth­ers.

“That’s the most beau­ti­ful week­end of the en­tire year in the Je­mez Val­ley,” Robin­son said. “The leaves are at the peak of their color usu­ally.”

Downs com­pared the at­mos­phere to a block party. Collins agreed.

“Ev­ery­body is very friendly and neigh­borly,” she said. “It’s a re­ally big sale with a small-town feel.”

The Je­mez Moun­tain Trail Sale, Oct. 17-18, is the per­fect time to see fall color at its peak in the Je­mez Val­ley.

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