Why do we have a list of items we cannot take?

The White Elephant Sale has been a success for more than 60 years because of the generosity of our donors, the organizational efforts of the Oakland Museum Women’s Board and the tireless work of over 900 volunteers. 

But we face a few big challenges in hosting such a large sale:

  • We literally receive tons of donated items that are not in sellable condition
  • We redistribute donations to over 100 charities but still spent more than $10,000 to send unusable items to landfill this past year

Please lease take a close look at everything you are planning to donate and consider whether you or anyone you know would be willing to buy it. If not, we probably cannot use it.

We can never take any items that are:

  • Broken, damaged, stained or needing repair
  • Perishable or personal care items (e.g. food, wine, pharmacy, lotions, soaps, or other personal care items)
  • Bearing a corporate logo (e.g. office supplies, mugs, clothing), but we do take items with college and professional sports team logos
  • Personalized with names/initials (e.g. linens, towels, mugs, clothing), except silver or silver plate
  • Dangerous (e.g. ammunition, explosives, chemicals, flammable fluids)
  • Taxidermy or preserved animals (e.g., deer heads)

This year, our list has been updated and expanded because of Covid-19. We are operating at reduced capacity because many of our volunteers are unable to work in the warehouse.

A final note: Our van drivers have discretion to refuse a donation. We regret any inconvenience and ask that you graciously accept their decision.


How to use this list:

The items listed below are those we cannot accept.

Any exceptions to the general rule (that is, things we may accept) are in italics.

For a quick search, use Ctrl-F or Command-F. This list is also available as a PDF.

Thank you for supporting the Oakland Museum of California!

  • Belts and wallets (including coin purses)
  • Personal grooming items, hair accessories and winter hats
  • Hosiery, socks and slippers
  • Large appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, washer/dryers, stoves, hot water heaters and microwave ovens
  • Air purifiers or ionizers, vaporizers and humidifiers
  • Bread machines, ice cream machines and rotisseries
  • Ceiling fans
  • Floor and carpet cleaners
  • Mangles and suit pressers
  • Frames, animal photographs, personal photographs, old master reproductions/prints, unframed maps, Asian scrolls, resin sculptures/figurines, art supplies*, posters*
  • *Art Supplies – only oil and acrylic paints and easels are accepted
  • *posters – only vintage posters, rock posters, Goines posters and signed posters are accepted
  • Music CDS, cassettes tapes (recorded or blank), reel-to-reel, 8-track, 78 RPM vinyl records and magnetic tape of any kind
  • Low-quality acoustical systems
  • Automotive accessories, such as batteries, jacks, tires, tire chains and rims
  • *Car covers are accepted
Beds and bedding
  • Beds - bed frames, headboards or bed sets of any size or materials, hospital beds and any kind of mattress
  • Bedding - bed pillows, bed skirts (unless part of a set), bed shams (unless part of a set), mattress pads and electric blankets and controls
  • Encyclopedias, reference books (dictionaries, quotations, etc.), 'how-to' books*
  • Performing arts books (artist biographies, movie and theater histories, etc.)
  • Self-help books and little gift books
  • Business books, computer books, law books
  • Book sets (by author, history, etc.)
  • *How-To books - knitting, sewing and quilting are accepted
Building materials
  • Building materials
  • *Unused and packaged faucets or repair parts may be accepted
  • Digital cameras - unless working, complete w/ battery pack, charger, cables and instructions
  • Video cameras, camcorders, and tapes (VHS, Beta, home- recorded, blank)
  • Photo enlargers and photo chemicals
  • Slide carousels
Carpeting and rugs
  • Carpets, rugs* and carpet/rug pads
  • *Antique and oriental rugs are accepted
  • Car seats, strollers*, changing tables, diaper genies, cribs with drop sides* and crib bumper pads
  • Highchairs, dressers and large furniture
  • Plastic items (e.g. bathtubs, chairs, toys, bottles, cups, plates, utensils)
  • Activity centers, exersaucers, swings and bouncy chairs
  • Pillows and sleeping bags
  • Shoes
  • *CRIBS - Vintage or collectible cribs that are not intended for use with babies may be accepted
  • *STROLLERS - McLaren strollers that clean and in good condition are accepted
  • *SHOES - new children's shoes are accepted
  • Grandfather clocks
  • Children’s – Bathrobes, pajamas, nightgowns, used shoes larger than size 13*
  • Men’s – Men's clothing and accessories (only for 2021 sale)
  • Women’s (only for 2021 sale)
    • Dresses and suits
    • Bridal wear
    • Leather pants or skirts
    • Dress coats and raincoats
    • Maternity wear
    • Lingerie, slips, lounge wear, robes, bed jackets, housecoats, nightgowns, pajamas, long underwear and panties*
    • Bathing suits
    • Scrubs
    • *Vintage (including vintage lingerie) may be accepted even if soiled, damaged, or missing buttons or fasteners
    • *Designer wear, ethnic clothing, kimonos, jump suits, fur coats & jackets and fur-trimmed jackets (real and man-made) are accepted
    • *Outerwear: high end coats, jackets, vests, leather coats, capes and sweater coats are accepted
    • *Rainwear: high end only are accepted
    • *Wearable art: high end only are accepted
    • *Formal wear: high end only are accepted
    • *PANTIES -  if new and packaged are accepted
  • Hardware, peripherals (e.g. printers, fax machines) and software
  • Accessories, manuals, empty CD jewel cases, floppy discs and disc storage boxes
Craft supplies
  • Craft supplies (paper, ribbon, cork, paint, doll making, holiday, flower arranging, rock tumbling, feathers)
  • Jewelry-making kits and loose beads
Decorative items
  • Large glass pieces, (vases, platters, etc.), china figurines, Asian dolls and collector plates (e.g. Franklin Mint, Bradbury Exchange)
  • Votive candles and clear FTD glass vases
  • Signs, snow globes and souvenirs*
  • *SOUVENIRS: Disney souvenirs are accepted
  • CHINA - incomplete china sets, soup tureens, platters, vegetable bowls, coffee pots, cream and sugar sets
  • DISHWARE - single plates, single cups without saucers or saucers without cups, salt and pepper sets, Lenox ware and punch bowls/cups
  • Single stemware glasses and logo wine glasses
  • Clear plastic dining or picnic ware
  • Single stainless flatware pieces*
  • *FLATWARE - Complete stainless flatware sets are accepted
Electrical items
  • Electrical cords, extension cords or computer cords
  • Boom boxes
  • Electric personal care items, e.g. hair dryers, curlers, shavers, toothbrushes and massagers
  • Air purifiers or ionizers, vaporizers and humidifiers
  • Bread machines, ice cream machines and rotisseries
  • Ceiling fans, floor and carpet cleaners
  • Mangles and suit pressers
  • Track lighting and fluorescent light tubes
  • Unused and empty used picture frames
  • Bed frames, headboards, bed sets of any size or material, hospital beds
  • Upholstered furniture (couches, chairs, ottomans, bean bag chairs)
  • Glass top tables*
  • Dining room tables without matching chairs, 40s dining sets and console phonograph/stereo/television units
  • Bookcases made of pressboard*
  • Partner desks and office furniture*
  • *TABLES - Mid-century modern tables with glass may be accepted
  • *BOOKCASES - Solid wood bookcases are accepted
  • * OFFICE CHAIRS (5-wheel) - in good condition may be accepted
  • Hoses and hose reels
  • Gas-powered yard tools, propane tanks and barbecues
  • Plastic garden furniture, outdoor play structures, plastic and metal lounge chairs
  • Plastic flowerpots
  • Plastic/styrofoam coolers/ice chests
  • Hardware
  • Large power tools, e.g. Shopsmith
Holiday decor
  • Christmas* - artificial trees, tree stands, garlands, loose ball ornaments, wreaths, mugs, glasses, dishes, angels, Santa figures, houses, resin decorations, poinsettias, pinecones and bells
  • *Vintage Christmas items in good condition may be accepted
  • Halloween - Non-ceramic pumpkins
Home improvement
  • Bathtubs, large plumbing fixtures and toilet seats
  • Cabinets and cabinet doors
  • Doors, windows, tile and paint
  • Ceiling fans
  • Stoves* of any kind
  • *Unused and packaged faucets are accepted
  • *Repair parts may be accepted
Kitchen items
  • Jars*, corks
  • Sports cups with straws
  • Styrofoam/plastic ice chests
  • Closet/bath accessories, hangers and ironing boards
  • Cleaning tools, brooms, pails, sponges and brushes
  • *CANNING JARS - are accepted
  • *TUPPERWARE - New or nearly new Tupperware is accepted
  • Track lighting, fluorescent light tubes
  • Bed pillows, bedskirts*, bed shams*, mattress pads and electric blankets and controls
  • Crocheted afghans
  • Laundry bags
  • Slipcovers for chairs/sofa/futons, table pads
  • Used cornices, large valances, metal blinds, shades, black-out drapes, sheer curtains, drapery hooks and weights and pleating tape
  • *Bedskirts and bed shams, If part of a set, are accepted
  • Computer bags and briefcases
  • Garment bags, tote bags, suitcases* without wheels, 2-wheeled suitcases and duffel bags
  • *SUITCASES – four-wheeled suitcases only are accepted
  • Magazines*
  • *Architectural Digest, Art and Antiques magazines, Collier, Cooks, Coronet, Life (before 197), Look, National Geographic (before 1960), Penthouse, Playboy are accepted
  • *Old and out of print magazines, and special interest magazines (photography, flying, yachting, horses, model railroad, oriental rugs, etc.) are accepted
  • Mattresses, box springs, futons and inflatable mattresses
Medical supplies
  • Medical supplies, devices and equipment (only for 2021 sale)
  • CDs and DVDs
  • Organ music and hymnals
  • Victrolas
  • (see also PIANOS/ORGANS)
Office supplies
  • Office machines, printers, cash registers and adding machines
  • Computer and tech accessories (ear buds, mice, mouse pads, etc.), small calculators and rolodex containers
  • Messenger bags and large business attaches
  • Electric typewriters* and typewriter tables
  • Business forms, loose typing or lined paper and calendars
  • Gift bags
  • Key chains, magnets and maps
  • Greeting cards, postcards, loose stationary, small note pads and partial sticky notes
  • Stamps and stamp albums, scrapbooks and photo albums
  • Partial rolls and scraps of wrapping paper
  • *TYPEWRITERS - Manual and vintage typewriters are accepted
Pet supplies
  • Pet supplies, cages, and equipment (for 2021 sale)
  • Cell phone or phone accessories
  • Digital cameras - unless working, complete w/battery pack, charger, cables and instructions
  • Video cameras, camcorders and tapes (VHS, Beta, home- recorded, blank)
  • Photo enlargers and chemicals
  • Slide carousels
  • Grand pianos, full-size upright pianos and player pianos*, electric organs
  • *Please contact us about other pianos and small keyboards
  • Sewing cabinets without machines (empty), treadle sewing machines, industrial sewing machines, knitting machines and looms (assembled or disassembled)
  • Needlepoint stretching frames, quilt frames, plastic nurdles, embroidery hoops and yarn cones
  • Foam rubber
  • Fur, upholstery fabric, synthetic fabric, burlap, canvas, netting, cotton knit fabric, fabric scraps, batting, stuffing, pellon, alteration leftovers, unfinished garments or projects, quilt tops in need of repair and drapery supplies
  • Used patterns unless pre-1970
  • Framed needlepoint or fabric
  • Plastic storage boxes (except bobbin or thread holders)
  • Crafts items including scrapbook paper and supplies, craft ribbon, corks, paint, doll-making, holiday, flower arranging, rock tumbling, feathers
  • Quilting, knitting and craft magazines
  • Any men’s, women’s and children's shoes (only for 2021 sale)
  • *Cowboy boots (either gender) are accepted
  • *High-end designer (e.g. Ferragamos, Christian Laboutin, TOD, Jimmy Choo, Stuart Weitzman) are accepted
  • *New shoes in box are accepted
Sporting goods
  • Ammunition and firearms
  • Baseball cards
  • Car racks and cargo carriers
  • Diving equipment
  • Inflatable mattresses and rafts
  • Golf bags, golf clubs
  • Skis, ski boot, ski poles, snowboards, hockey equipment
  • Water skis and windsurfing equipment
  • Canvas tents
  • Travel bags
  • Trophies
  • Wading pools
  • Large or heavy exercise equipment including rowing machines, NordicTracks, stationary bikes, treadmills and pilates equipment
  • Televisions of any type or size, television stands
  • Cardboard building bricks
  • Chemistry sets
  • Costumes
  • Dolls over 18 in., doll beds/strollers, doll furniture (large) and doll houses (unless small/portable)
  • Jewelry making kits and loose beads
  • PlayDoh and paint (unless unopened)
  • Piggy banks, stuffed animals and wooden toys
  • Video game consoles and accessories
  • Riding horses – large, spring-type
  • Train tables
  • Large, inflatable toys, unless new and unopened
  • Plastic sand boxes, sand/pool/bath toys and wading pools
  • (see also CRAFT SUPPLIES we cannot take)
  • DVDs - movie, instructional recordings or blank DVDs
  • Video cameras, video tapes, blank or recorded - VHS, Beta and reel-to-reel
  • Videotape cases, racks and carriers
Window covering
  • Shades and blinds of any kind
  • Cornices and valences
  • Black-out drapes