Nine years ago when Jennifer Via founded and organized the Historic Hwy 35 Junk Hunt, she had no idea how much it would grow. It started with a series of rummage sales along a 120-mile route that extended from Benton to Dermott, Arkansas. Via followed the hunt with the Hwy. 79-63 Junk Hunt in the fall to bring even more people through Cleveland County and its neighbors.
In the fall of 2023, at the request of many “junkers” and “hunters,” Via brought a major expansion and re-branding to that hunt, becoming the Great South Arkansas Junk Hunt. Via is excited to announce that with the expansion proving successful, she and her team of volunteers have completed the expansion with the merger of the original Hwy. 35 Junk Hunt into the Great South Arkansas Junk Hunt. The merger creates one large route of sales to be held twice a year, and now spread over four days instead of three.
Via said, “The Junk Hunts have grown significantly each year in sales and traffic, so we have been building to this greater hunt.”
The massive route will launch its spring run on Thursday, March 7th through Sunday, March 10th, with multiple routes across the southern part of Arkansas. This event will feature more than 600 miles of yard sales. The fall run will follow the same route Thursday, Oct. 10 through Sunday, Oct. 13.
“Many people hold their junk for months just for this event,” Via said. “Now, people will not be storing junk for more than six months at a time. Also, now they have an extra day to sell or explore the route.”
Last fall, Via said, “I had requests from interested businesses wanting to set up hubs for vendors, and the general public asking me to run the route through their towns.”
Via said she collaborated with Douglas Boultinghouse, of the Rison Shine Community Development organization, to draft a new map and overall plan for the Junk Hunts.
“Jennifer, Vickie, Donna and I have collected a lot of feedback,” Boultinghouse said. “And we think this is merger and expansion simplifies a lot of the Junk Hunt. Adding a fourth day on Sundays allows for more time to sell, but also gives a fun activity for families looking for something to do when church lets out. It also opens up time for Sunday flea markets to participate,” he said.
Via noted that this larger Hunt also doubles the traffic and revenue brought into towns along the routes, now more than once a year.
“What the past Junk Hunts have shown is that people travel from all over the state and other states just to shop these sales,” she said. “But they’re stopping at restaurants, gas stations, booking hotel rooms and more, boosting tax revenue in many towns, helping out small businesses.”
She encourages any businesses along the route to take advantage of the traffic by having sidewalk sales or special events. Boultinghouse notes that while the new Junk Hunt has four central routes (Highways 35, 63, 79 and 425), there are several offshoot paths that connect them, but the sales do not stop there.
“If your road is off of one of these paths, feel free to put a sign at the end of the road to alert travelers of more sales your way,” he said.
The routes begin/end in Pine Bluff, Benton and Dermott, depending on the direction you start or end. The original Hwy. 35 route remains the same a straight stretch from Benton to Dermott, but with an added connector route on Hwy. 167 that connects Sheridan down to Fordyce on Hwy. 79. With all of the connecting routes, other new towns not mentioned above included in the Junk Hunt are Bearden, Camden, Smackover, Norphlet, Hampton, Wilmar, Fountain Hill and Ivan.
The central route/loop is depicted on the map in dark blue, and the Hwy. 35 route in dark orange, while the connecting paths are labeled in light blue and light orange.
If you currently follow the Historic Hwy. 35 Junk Hunt on Facebook be aware that it’s merging with the Great South Arkansas Junk Hunt Facebook page. Also join the Great South Arkansas Junk Hunt Facebook group.