OAKLAND — The Oakland Museum Women’s Board’s White Elephant Sale has been described as Northern California’s Biggest and Best Rummage Sale and named one of San Francisco’s Top 100 Events by BizBash.
Now in its 58th year, it’s become an event that can’t be missed by devoted shoppers, browsers or anyone looking for something unique.
The actual sale takes place on the weekend of March 4-5, but true devotees know that real aficionados show up early Jan. 29 for the preview sale, the first chance to look over quality used goods organized into 17 departments within a 96,000-square-foot Oakland warehouse.
Among the furniture, artwork, household items, china, sporting goods, fine jewelry, Asian collectibles, tools, music, books, vintage and contemporary clothing and more, there will be bargains and treasures waiting to be discovered.
The event is organized and presented by the Oakland Museum Women’s Board and is important financially to the Oakland Museum of California, having raised $2 million for each of the past two years.
“Hopefully, this year will be just as good. Since 1955, we’ve contributed somewhere around $24 million,” said Joan Gale, president of the Oakland Museum Women’s Board. “Support for the museum is the Women’s Board’s mission and vision. That is all we do.”
The White Elephant Sale also represents a strong connection with the community.
“We have so many donors who drop off things for the sale and have it picked up, not only from Oakland and the East Bay, but our van goes out to Marin County, San Francisco and Contra Costa County as well,” Gale said. “Our volunteers come from all over, mostly from the East Bay. We have about 1,000 volunteers.”
On a good preview sale day, the line can stretch all the way to the Interstate 880 freeway. Though the doors don’t open until 10 a.m., people begin lining up as early as 6 a.m. The mood is upbeat, a mix of anticipation and excitement and volunteers let shoppers know they’re appreciated.
“When the doors open, most of the volunteers wearing their white coats line the aisles and cheer as the shoppers come in,” Gale said.
Kathleen Fennelly, White Elephant Sale co-chair, described preview shoppers as special people.
“They want to see it first before anybody else; they want to have the first crack at what we’ve been collecting since last May,” Fennelly said. “They’re the people who are up for a treasure hunt — they have an idea of what they want, but also have an open mind to come into the building and be wowed by something fabulous.”|
This year, the electrical department has a huge glass chandelier, so large that it’s packed in a crate with photographs attached.
“It looks like something that was in a room with a great, high ceiling — a Downton Abbey-type of chandelier. It’s unique,” said Monica Beary, event co-chair.
Beary worked in the toy department for eight years and knows it contains bargains and treasures among its vintage and current board games, electronic games, electric trains, jigsaw puzzles, building toys, arts and crafts, educational toys and more.
“There are stuffed animals and dolls. This year, we have a collection of 25 exquisite Madame Alexander dolls still in their original boxes,” she said.
Fennelly is a 20-year volunteer who began when the sewing department was established. The sewing department has a mix of current and vintage goods from sewing machines and cabinets to old sewing implements, patterns and vintage lace. Fabrics are organized by type and labeled with the yardage and fabric content.
“We have people who are drawn to it because we have such an extensive collection of antique buttons. Volunteers sort and clean old buttons, and put them on playing or greeting cards and make them into pieces of art,” Fennelly said. “The buttons match the picture on the card so they make it fun.”
It takes a lot to organize this annual rummage sale extravaganza and Gale noted two important factors.
“I think the most important factor is that we have these dedicated volunteers. They help plan and organize this event over the whole year,” Gale said. “We get a lot of cooperation from the community with donations and the people who come to shop year after year.”
“I think people need to come and experience it at least once in a lifetime,” Fennelly said. “If they’re up for an adventure, the White Elephant Sale is a good one.”
What: Oakland Museum Women’s Board’s White Elephant Preview Sale
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: 333 Lancaster St. near Oakland Estuary
Details: Preview ticket sales $15 in advance at the OMCA Store, $16 online through the WES website, and $20 at the door. Children under 12 free, must be accompanied by adult at all times. Complimentary shuttle service from Fruitvale BART to WES warehouse will be provided for the preview sale and the White Elephant Sale days.
White Elephant Sale: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 4-5; admission free
Published at Tue, 24 Jan 2017 15:06:28 +0000