Wonderful White Elephant Sale

The biggest, most organized sale I’ve ever seen is the Oakland Museum’s white elephant sale . The Oakland Museum’s Women’s Board hosts the sale in a warehouse off Fruitvale that they own outright. Parking is tough, but once you’ve found your spot, get ready to shop till you drop.
The Sunday preview sale is a $20.00 ticket, but it’s the first chance you have to see the goods. One trick is to enter at 1:00 when all the early birds are heading home. There’s still plenty to buy, and it’s not crazy crowded with every dealer in the Bay Area.
The departments are furniture, books, art, garden, sporting goods, toys, music, electric, clothing, sewing, housewares, tools – I even got a car bed for the rescue dog.
Then for four weeks, you can shop Wed through Sat, 10 to 2, but the trick is that you have to know someone who works at the sale and has given you a pass, or the bigger secret, that you can get it in if you bring at least two bags of donations.
Then the public sale is two full days on the first weekend in March. I’ve never been but heard it is jam-packed with people.
Today was my third trip this year. I took Tess to the preview sale, took Margo last week, and took Barbara and Lisa today. Next week I will find someone to take for my fourth and last time this year – it doesn’t work to go alone. You need someone to wait with your pile of stuff while the other one goes to get the car.
A good day is when you can’t carry your purchases without the help of your friends.
A good day is when you find a cross-stitched framed wall hanging for $2.00. A good day is when you buy a baby quilt for your dog for $1.00 because it has a little rip in it. A good day is when you find the Nancy Ann Story book dolls your mom collects because your dad gave her one on their first date (it got lost in a move).
A good day is when you find five 50’s print tablecloths for cheap because they have a stain or two. It’s okay. You know about Oxy Clean and sunshine.
A good day is when you find a vintage beveled mirror in a walnut frame with carved grapes for $40.00.
A good day is when you run out of time before you run out of money.
On the car ride home, you realize that one friend bought nothing and the other spent $600 on a patio set and a piece of art. You were somewhere in between, and now you have two gifts for your mom, a gift for your dog, some linens for yourself, and a one-of-a-kind mirror for your house, plus a vintage watering can.
You love the sale and all the cute little ladies who run it. They raise millions for the museum and come back to their departments year after year.
“Why do you do it?” I asked one woman who looked cold in the unheated warehouse.
She smiled.
“You get first dibs, right?” I asked.
She smiled again.
I’ll never volunteer. But I will support it with my patronage. It’s so much fun to shop the biggest, most organized sale in the Bay Area.

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