Tuesday, May 10, 2011

All aboard the yard-sale bus

In the interest of keeping it local, I would like to propose an alternative to charter bus excursions that take Lake County dollars to distant communities. Instead, why not charter a Lake Transit bus to tour yard sales on Saturdays?

There is something so enjoyably serendipitous about finding unexpected treasures at a yard sale; my husband and I often stop on impulse when we see a yard sale sign. Imagine the communal enjoyment among a group of  people touring yard sales together, sharing and commiserating over the excitement of their finds.

Here’s how it would work: the Lake Transit bus would make fixed-time stops in several Lake County communities where passengers could board and disembark. It would need to make at least two circuits so that everyone who boarded at a particular stop could be returned to their original location. In between stops, the route would deviate to visit yard sales that were taking place that week.

Generous intervals would allow for these excursions while still meeting posted times.

The weekly yard-sale classified ads in Saturday’s Record-Bee provide physical address listings; a tech-savvy concierge could input these points into a Google map mash-up that incorporated the fixed-point route; he or she could then print out directions in preparation for the day’s run. The concierge would be responsible for informing the driver when and where to deviate from the route to take in yard-sale attractions.

An extended stop-over during lunchtime could add to the day’s enjoyment; passengers could eat picnic fare or savor a meal at a local restaurant and then get back on the bus.

The location of the stop-over could vary week by week, introducing riders to culinary attractions in various Lake County communities.

Imagine the promotional opportunity for a restaurant to be able to say that it was that week’s official stop on the Lake Transit yard-sale route!

The passes that are good for unlimited rides on Lake Transit routes would not apply to the charter bus. The charter bus fare would include a surcharge that would be donated to whichever nonprofit agency provided the concierge that week.

The weekly route would provide a steady stream of revenue for nonprofit agencies. Each agency would sign up in advance and could then promote increased ridership to increase its share of the take.
But the potential benefits would not end there. The domestic bus would refuel at its domestic facility, unlike an out-of-county charter service bus traveling to a distant locale.

The people who were riding the bus would keep their money in the county as well.

People holding yard sales would have an incentive to take out ads in the classified yard-sale listing; maybe their listing would end up as a point on the route.

Every week could bring a new adventure and a new set of possibilities for those serendipitous finds between stops by the yard-sale bus.

Published May 5, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

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