Sunday morning, I ventured forth with pastries and will-call tickets to meet several of the costume pals, the other hunter/gatherers of our little group. We met in line for what I call the Annual Department Store of Used Stuff in a huge warehouse in Oakland. All the proceeds go to support the Oakland Museum.

Throngs of people were in line, but (unlike the SF Opera Costume Shop Sale) there was much organization — volunteers handing out pre-purchased tickets in line to those who had pre-paid and answering questions. The line was moving quickly, right at 10 am, when the doors opened. (we didn’t have to get there to hold a place at 8 am, only to meet several other groups who had been there hours before, sleeping in tents on the sidewalk, as if we were waiting for the new Star Wars film to start.)

The selling floor covers an entire warehouse and is organized all year round by diligent veteran volunteers. Each area of merchandise has its own section and they have a system for writing up your purchases and bringing the bag to the entrance of each “department”, like at a real department store. At least that is what Macy’s was like last time I went there. This warehouse accepts donations All Year Round but is only open to the public on specific days. You never know what you will find.

Did I mention that all proceeds go to the Oakland Museum? Well, it’s worth repeating. Their volunteers are either teenagers or 50+ and are really helpful folks. The volunteers told me that this was the largest turnout they had ever had. It was jam packed with hardly any room to move in the fabric section with lines everywhere. And still, I didn’t have to wait 3 hours to get in, and another 3 to check out, like at the last big warehouse sale I attended. Phew.

One woman in line said she and her sister go to garage sales, thrift stores and flea markets everywhere they travel. They’ve been to sales like this in England, France, Italy and in other states in the U.S. They’ve come every year of their adult lives to this sale, in Oakland, though.

I spent just a little over $40 of my hard-earned money; that is equivalent to four hours, one half of one shift at my Saturday job. Here is my haul.

Thanks go to HH for giving me a ride home with this bag o stuff:

6 yards of gorgeous, flower-patterned turquoise/light blue and white cotton to make a 1960s Mad Men dress (inspired by Dress a Day blog) with my vintage 1960s sewing pattern

2 pieces of white fake fur with a pattern of black and brown and gray – for $1.00 each  (more than a yard each) – I got these for LaRue who was bemoaning the lack of fake ermine when she was making a ‘Wives of Henry the 8th’ project least year

at least 4 remnant bundles of 1 – 2 yards of “masculine” patterned/colored flannel for Hank’s doggie outfits – his parents are designers who are very discerning about what he wears!

1 bundle of cotton velvet in a delicate moss-green color that is just screaming to become a Victorian bonnet

6 sewing patterns @ $0.25 each: children’s (for sizing Halloween costumes – never again will I “eyeball it” from an existing garment when a 3 year old grew two sizes in two weeks, know what I mean?); a men’s 1960s pajama/robe pattern with a festive drawing on the front; a women’s bathrobe pattern, and a set of Closet Accessories patterns!  I’ve been getting organized!

2 -1960s dress patterns at $3.00 each – they are SO CUTE! Mad Men event, here we come!

Several $1.00 pieces of either leather or faux suede – I don’t care if it’s real or not, it’s a gorgeous color of pale blue/gray and will work well for linings or bodices or belts or hats or trimming corsets. I also got a $1.00 piece of ivory faux-or-real suede

2 pair of pink gloves from the Accessories section — one pair is real leather and it FITS ME – a rarity in the glove world; the other is just cute and has teensy buttons at the cuff (I think these were $3 and $4)

A 1930s/40s asymmetrical hat in gray tweed wool — this was going to be my big splurge of $15. I has to find out if Ms. S was going to “steal” or “borrow” it, it since it went home with her and and her partner, H. They ended up buying it for me in exchange for my providing H. with a ticket. I also helped H. pick out a parasol and an umbrella for his partner, S, who was late arriving. That was fun. HH and I helped him find an appropriate 1960s style hat and a different, yet matching purse. S. was very pleased with our “consulting” him. Again with the preparations for the Mad Men event!

And finally, I got a copy of Reader’s Digest Guide to Sewing that Ms. S recommended as she had used it for a sewing class. This item was purchased for a mere $5.00. It made my bag heavy but it’s like having a collection of Threads Magazine’s best instruction articles in one hardcover book – a deal by my standards.

We only had about two hours to hunt and gather, since this was the same day as the now-bi-monthly gathering of Mills gals in San Francisco for me, and the same day as the Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild Open House, for the other costumers.

There will be photos at some point soon. Promise.

One thought on “Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale Preview last Sunday”


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