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Vintage Rummage

Bargain-hunting experts weigh in on how to best shop-til-you-drop at the Oakland Museum's White Elephant Sale.


Mark Cinotti/Shutterstock

For collectors, bargain hunters, and vintage lovers, this month’s White Elephant Sale is a must, with 96,000 square feet of goods. Best of all, proceeds benefit Oakland Museum. We asked die-hard fans for their shopping tips.

Early Bird Gets the…Vintage Gown
Doors open at 10 a.m., but if you want first pick, get in line two hours early, recommends Sheri Guthrie, a 20-year volunteer. Parking is scarce, so carpool or take the free shuttle from the Fruitvale BART station.

Plan of Attack
“Go with what you want to get in mind,” says Mark Daniel, an interior designer who attends every year to find unique pieces for his clients. The warehouse—and the crowds—can be overwhelming, so pick up a map before the doors open, and plot your course.

Dive Right In
Among the eclectic offerings (a dentist’s chair, antique skis...), there are many treasures, from Mikimoto pearls to pairs of Jimmy Choos. “You can’t walk around and say, ‘Oh, isn’t that pretty!’ You have to be determined—and ready to dig,” says Daniel, whose all-time favorite find is a vintage street map of Paris.

The Loot
While credit cards are accepted, they’re only swiped in one location (whereas individual departments take cash). So bring some twenties and a large canvas shopping bag to carry purchases. When your bag starts weighing you down, leave items at a checkstand, and continue shopping. Return for day two, when some items are half off.

White Elephant Sale, March 5–6, 333 Lancaster St., Oakland, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., free admission, whiteelephantsale.org

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