In honor of the upcoming White Elephant Sale, here’s one from the archives…The lines for the jewelry cases were three people deep, so deep in fact that you could not see what was in them. Over in Housewares there was such a crush of people that you couldn’t even find your way in. And, in the Art Department, it was so crowded that frenetic shoppers were breaking things. Yes, just another average day at the White Elephant Sale (WES), the Oakland Museum’s over-the-top fundraiser that prepares all year round for this popular Springtime event. It’s even been touted as ‘the Walmart of thrift stores’ by bloggers on the In Oakland blog on SFGate.
Many moons ago, I was one of the over 900 volunteers that give up weekday or week-end hours to help sort, tag and merchandise tons of donations to get ready for this gargantuan warehouse sale. It’s a very nice group of people who help put on the Sale every year – many of whom have been doing it for decades – and it definitely takes a village. Plus, one of the many benefits of volunteering at the sale is that you get a sneak peek at what’s in store and sometimes you can put things aside to buy yourself (once they’re priced and using moderation).
It was only 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, but already most of the vintage clothing had been picked through and the coolest furniture pieces had been tagged with “sold” signs. There was a set of 3 vintage 1940’s metal porch chairs that I couldn’t take my eyes off of, but at $90 each, I eventually had to force myself to move along. What did I expect? The dealers and smart shoppers had already found most of the gems at the February preview show ($15 admission) or had lined up at 4 a.m. to be one of the first ones in.
WES Tip: Everything under $200 is 50% off on Sunday!
But, one of the best things about the sale is people watching. And, don’t miss out on the funky mosaic walls and the car art scattered amongst the artist residences adjacent to the warehouse. That, along with the cost of admission to the sale is free..