Norma’s Collectables and Cactus

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Norma Dennis in front of the store, along U.S. Highway 127, near Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

Attention shoppers! The world’s largest Yard Sale is approaching. Four days, August 4 – 7, along 690 miles of U.S. Highway 127, from Addison, Michigan to Gadsden, Alabama, you will find more lamp shades, hub caps, ragged sofas, wire cutters, scuffed-up golf balls and used baby shoes than you ever dreamed possible.

For several years I’ve covered a 20-mile stretch of the Yard Sale between Lawrenceburg and Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

Here’s what I’ve missed.

I have driven past Norma’s Collectables and Cactus every week, for the past five years, on my way to our farm in Salvisa, KY.

I wondered what was going on. I dropped in last week and met Norma Dennis.

Norma’s private collection.

Norma got the cactus bug shortly after she married Ralph Dennis in 1947. Her daddy had a grocery story in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and another country store on the Ballard Road, 15 miles away. She and her husband ran the Ballard Road store.

Her mother always kept a few cactus and Norma took a few pieces with her to the country store. Her husband made little wooden boxes for the tiny collection. Soon customers were admiring cactus and asked if she would sell them “slips” – little pieces from Norma’s cacti and succulents.

In 1962, the family took a trip out west. The kids got to see places they’d studied in school. Disneyland was their real goal. Norma had other ideas. “I was looking for cactus.”

There were no restrictions on digging cacti back then. By the time they’d seen the Grand Canyon, Death Valley and the Painted Desert, the car trunk was loaded with agaves and bunny ears (opuntias). After they were potted up, and placed around the Ballard Road store, Norma explained, “You could imagine how much interest that created.”

Vacations were planned around cacti. She and Ralph would drive their pick-up truck with a camper top across the country to California to buy small cacti wholesale. They’d load up the truck, boxes stacked high, and drive home. They’d sell the load of cacti, and then return, to repeat the process each year for the next 24 years.

Norma moved adjacent to the busy, four lane U.S. Highway 127 on July 4, 2010. Norma’s Collectables and Cactus is a mile north of the Bluegrass Parkway, on the left side. The store is open 9:00 – 5:00 but closed on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Norma has lots of small cacti for sale. The store is fun, too. Santa cookie jars, Coca Cola memorabilia and lots of Cactus collectables line the shelves.

You can’t miss Norma’s Collectables and Cactus. A big American flag waves in the wind out front, but it’s the Cactus collection that will catch your eye.

I asked Norma if she was busy during the annual 127 Yard Sale. Unable to hide her sweet smile, she said, “I imagine. ”

 

 

Posted by

Allen Bush
on July 27, 2016 at 7:45 am, in the category Unusually Clever People, What’s Happening.

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8 Comments

  1. 24th September 2016 at 10:56 am —

    What a fabulous tale of Americana! To think that you passed by Norma’s place for five years before stopping. Glad you finally did. AND, 690 miles of yard sale, wow, that’s a lot of scuffed golf balls. But I bet none of ’em has cacti.

  2. 29th October 2016 at 11:32 pm —

    Thanks, Sarah. Norma is authentic Americana. It was a pleasure to meet her. I will be back to visit again.

  3. 14th November 2016 at 4:54 am —

    I have known Norma for years and love her! She is a wonderful lady. Did her hair for several years too. Wonderful family. I know she misses Ralph and Angie her daughter.

  4. 20th November 2016 at 11:53 am —

    Phyllis, thank you very much for your personal reflection of Norma.

  5. 20th November 2016 at 10:37 pm —

    Norma needs to learn how to spell.

  6. 21st November 2016 at 4:10 pm —

    I grew up near norma..she and her family ran a grocery store that met alot of people’s needs!!!! She is no quitter !!! And tries to find good in everyone …maybe u should try it james..she is an extroidinary woman

  7. 23rd November 2016 at 9:34 pm —
  8. 24th November 2016 at 8:48 am —

    Gwen, thank you so much. James was just being a smart ass. Don’t worry about him. I could’t agree with you more about Norma!

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Norma’s Collectables and Cactus