Chances are you're familiar with the standard weekend yard sales or even the occasional estate sale.

Twice a year along a couple of highways in, around and through Arnaudville, as well as in a few neighboring towns, there's the 7 Mile Plus Yard Sale. Sponsored by the Arnaudville Area Chamber of Commerce,  the next one is set for March 17, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tom Colley, who with his wife Sue, own Days Gone By in Grand Coteau, says the yard sale is a group effort by merchants who wanted to attract people to their towns.

"All the merchants in town originally got together looking for ways to draw people to down to help our businesses," Colley says. "The first one we did was such a big success that we thought we maybe had something and decided we'd do it on a regular basis."

Merchants pay $40 to the chamber to help defray costs of insurance, portable latrines, advertising and such.

Colley says merchants charge vendors $25 to set up in front of stores, and each merchant has different times for vendors to set up, either Friday night or Saturday morning.

Through the chamber, vendors can also set up along La. Hwy. 93 [Sunset and Grand Coteau to Arnaudville], or along La. Hwy. 31 [Arnaudville to Cecilia.]

"They can set up along the highway as well," says Colley. "Now there's not a lot of opportunity, but close to Beau Chene High School, a subdivision between here and there [Coteau Lakes], in those areas there are some nice shoulder and yard area, but there are some spots that it's just not safe to set up."

And it's because of the limited highway space, as well as the growing interest to participate, merchants in the towns of Sunset and Cecilia are now included.

"So in the last two yard sales, Sunset has been included on our end. They've got a good, motivated group in Sunset," he says. "And on the other end, Arnaudville's end, Cecilia has been bugging them to join, so this year Cecilia's been added."

The 7 Mile Yard Sale is held the third Saturday in March and October.

"So it's always is the same," says Colley. "You don't have to worry about the dates."

And there's something to be said for keeping the yard sale a bi-annual event.

"We didn't want to have it so often to where people are just not coming, and March and October are reasonably good weather months," says Colley. "It's just before it gets cold and just before it gets real  hot."

Weather is a crucial consideration for anything planned for the outdoors in Southwest Louisiana, and the merchants learned this the hot way, according to Colley.

"We did have one in July one year and it was just too hot," he says. "People couldn't last. It was just way too warm.

"And it's exactly six months apart no matter from which one to which one," Colley continues. "So it kind of spaced it out nice for us and that's kind of how we settled on it."

But the merchants didn't let the mid-summer sauna known as July keep them idle as Grand Coteau businesses presented Grand Coteau 101 last summer.

"Each store gave classes on some particular craft," says Colley. "And that worked out for us because it was something that was inside."

The yard sale's moniker speaks to the distance between Arnaudville and Grand Coteau, or vice-versa.

After the first yard sale and with a good and proven idea in hand, Grand Coteau businesses joined the Arnaudville Chamber of Commerce, and in short time so did Cecilia, and now it's called the Arnaudville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Through the new additions and the extended length of the yard sale, its name remains the same. And for good reason.

"We've maintained the 7 Mile name just because its been established and it's been a good draw," Colley says. "When somebody asks about the yard sale, they always call it the '7 Mile.'"

Colley says vendors and customers come from around the region for the 7 Mile.

"We've always had good participation from vendors," he says. "A lot of ours are the same ones every year and they always want the same spot.

"Whatever they want to sell, it's cool with us," says Colley, which includes food vendors, crafts, and regular yard sale stuff. "It doesn't matter if it's stuff we sell, too."

Colley says that since the first event, a vendor sells the same items found in Days Gone By.

"It's a lot of fun," he says. "They come from Ville Platte, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge. It seems to have settled in and became an event for people."

The 7 Mile Yard Sale has also become an event for participating merchants.

"It's been successful for us and it serves a purpose of exposing the stores to people who otherwise would not have come to Grand Coteau to see what we have," says Colley. "And so that helps generate new customers, which is our whole point of doing it in the first place.

"And then the community gets an opportunity to clear out and make a little money at the same time," he says.

Call (337)754-5316 for more information.

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