Elkin residents failed to hold yard sales in town limits during the inaugural Take A Break From the Interstate three-day Road Market Sale last weekend, at least according to permit records.
The town charges a $5 fee for yard sales on residential property in accordance with Chapter 112 of the town’s Code of Ordinances.
Businesses in Elkin with a current privilege license were permitted to participate at no extra charge, but if a business was allowing others to set up in their lots, the vendors had to contact the town for a permit costing $100, along with getting permission from the property owner to conduct the sale.
According to town staff, there were no permit applications during the Take A Break From the Interstate event.
Residents and vendors said the high fee imposed by the town for yard sales on commercial property is out-of-reach and they went elsewhere.
“Elkin’s ridiculous for charging when they want folks to come (to) downtown Elkin and to boost their business,” said Angie Swaim in a Tribune article covering the recent event. “Nobody along the stretch of Highway 21 is charging anybody except for Elkin and it’s pitiful.” Swaim is a vintage sign and toy dealer.
Swaim said she grew up in Elkin, attended high school at Elkin High and had many fond memories of eating at Royall’s and seeing movies in Elkin. She said she would love to have supported the town by having her booth there. With the success she was seeing at her booth and other booths set up in State Road, Swaim said she felt that the town of Elkin really missed the boat by trying to charge for participation.
“When you want to bring businesses into your downtown to boost your economy, you don’t, in an event like this, turn around and hurt yourself and unfortunately that’s what they did,” said Swaim.
Other Elkin residents said they only wanted to sell household items. They didn’t want traffic heading into residential neighborhoods and were seeking a higher visibility location. Instead of paying the fee, they went to Jonesville who did not charge a fee.
“This fee is regulated by ordinance and could have been waived but never surfaced as an issue prior to this past weekend’s events,” said Elkin Town Manager Lloyd Payne.
“There was some discussion between myself, Cathie (Tilley), Scooter (Ray Parker), and the mayor (Lestine Hutchens) about waiving these fees to allow/encourage greater participation. However, it was determined by Scooter that this (commercial yard sales) was not simply a fee but rather regulated as an itinerant merchant, which falls under the privilege license — which is a tax, not a fee, and thus cannot be waived,” said Payne. Tilley is the Elkin town clerk. Parker is Elkin town attorney.
Tilley said the lack of seeing yard sales conducted along Bridge Street is not necessarily related to the tax. “Many property owners do not want yard sales on their property. They have the final say,” she said.
The 70-mile-long sale of Take A Break From the Interstate promoted an effort to avoid Interstate 77 and rediscover towns along the historic route of U.S. 21 like Elkin and promote economic development through tourism.
Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.