White Elephant Sale 2023
Friday, July 14, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Saturday, July 15, 8 a.m.-noon
Every year, on a weekend in early July, the Ladies Benevolent Society (LBS) holds its White Elephant Sale (WES) on the grounds of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. This is a huge fund raiser that grows in size every year, allowing the LBS to fund more than 25 nonprofit organizations across our region and around the world. The popular annual sale began in 1936; the only years the sale was not held were 2020 and 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic. You’ll find everything you need to know about this incredible sale here:
The White Elephant Sale (WES) is one of the major annual events that appears on the church’s and town’s calendar. While there are other garage and rummage sales held by other organizations throughout the year, few can match the size, color, camaraderie and excitement of this one. Residents and visitors will often plan their summer vacations around it.
Donations are typically collected for two weeks before the sale. Area residents donate antiques, art, books, bikes, canoes, clothing, collectibles, kayaks, kitchenware, shoes, ski equipment, tools, toys and more. (If you would like to donate items to the WES, please review our intake list, which explains the items we do and don’t accept; and our calendar, which explains when you can drop off your items at the church.)
Nearly 200 volunteers sign up to help collect, sort, price, organize and sell the various donated items displayed during the spectacular two-day sale. (If you would like to volunteer, please call the church office in June at 860-434-8686, select option 5, leave your name and phone number, and we’ll be in touch promptly.)
The sale itself takes place both inside and outside the church, typically covering the entire church grounds. (Click here to see videos showing the size and scope of the event.)
On the Friday morning of the sale, a crowd will gather early outside the ropes surrounding the church, waiting for the clock in the bell tower to strike nine. When it does, the ropes come down and shoppers head for their favorite sale departments in search of hidden treasures. On Saturday morning, the sale continues – and most everything is half off.
Volunteers sell coffee and doughnuts both days (raising additional funds for charity). On Friday, the food court is open for lunch, featuring hot dogs, chili, homemade salads and desserts to help keep shoppers refreshed.
After the sale, Goodwill Industries and other organizations pick up any unsold items and sell them to help raise funds for their own charitable activities.
Mark your calendar and make plans to join us in July at the sale!
Nearly 200 volunteers sign up to help us collect, sort, price, organize and sell the various donated items displayed during the spectacular two-day sale. The calendar below shows the six days when we will be accepting items and the two days when we will be holding the event itself:
SUNDAY MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY
Here is a list of the items that we do and don’t accept for sale in this extraordinary annual event. We ask for “quality items” when it comes to donations – to reduce the handling and sorting time, since we only have nine hours over two days to sell them.
We are limiting the amount of large furniture that we will accept this year. We are not planning any pickup service due to manpower scheduling and conflicts. If you do have a piece to donate and are wondering whether we will accept, please call the office 434-8686 anytime, wait for the voicemail and press 5 to leave a message on the WES voicemail box. We will contact you to discuss your large furniture donation.
Instructions for donating accepted items appears immediately below the chart. Please note that intake for the sale takes place only over a period of six days (starting June 29) and we have no place to store items prior to June 29.
To make a donation, please bring the items by the church during the intake days and hours indicated on our calendar. Some items – including indoor and outdoor furniture – require advance notice to be donated. Starting in mid-June, donors with these kinds of items can call the church office at 860-434-8686 and leave a message on the WES recorded line.
|We WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY ITEMS listed below:||We GLADLY ACCEPT QUALITY ITEMS in these categories:|
|Dirty or Broken Items, or Junk||Gifts, Sundries, Knickknacks|
|Appliances, Large: Air Conditioners, Refrigerators & Freezers, Stoves , Washers & Dryers||DVD's (Family Content)|
|Books: Technical Books, Textbooks, Encyclopedias||Books: Children’s, Fiction, Nonfiction|
|Furniture: Particle Board, Sofa Beds, Stuffed Couches/Chairs & Dining Room Sets||Furniture: Not on the 'will not accept' list [Call Church Office if you have a question or to arrange donation)|
|Luggage: Hard Sided||Luggage: Soft Sided, Steamer Trunks Only|
|Skis: Old-Style Downhill Skis||Skis: Downhill ones must be “shape” style|
|TVs: All Styles||Antiques, Fine China, Small Silver Appliances|
|Bicycle Helmets: used - safety concerns||Art, Sculpture, Posters, Frames|
|Car Seats (Safety Liability)||Baskets|
|Computers, Monitors & Software||Bicycles, Tricycles|
|Cribs (Safety Liability)||Boats, Canoes, Kayaks|
|Stereo Equipment, Speakers||Clothes: Children’s, Men’s, Women’s, Fine, Fashion, Vintage, Costume & Accessories|
|Fuel Cans: Gasoline, Diesel or Kerosene||Collections|
|Guns, Knives, Weapons||Computer Hardware (Working)|
|Lamps (Floor or Table)||Christmas & Holiday Decorations|
|Magazines, Newspapers||Curtains, Drapes|
|Mattresses, Box Springs||Jewelry: Costume & Fine|
|Paint||Kitchen Items: Appliances, Dishes, Cookware|
|Rugs (Used/Stained)||Musical Instruments|
|Scanners||Sporting Goods (Good Condition)|
|Stuffed Animals (Unless New)||Tools : House & Garden|
|Toys, New Stuffed Animals|
Here are two videos of past White Elephant Sales that show the size, scope and popularity of the two-day event. Every year, the event raises tens of thousands of dollars which is donated to nonprofit organizations across our region and around the world.
Here is a brief, bulleted history of the White Elephant Sale:
- In the earliest years of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme – in the mid- to late 1600s – the women of the church cooked food and sewed clothing to raise money to help support the church’s charitable projects.
- In 1888, the women of the church officially formed the Neck Road Society and, over the years, the Society held concerts, socials and other events to raise money for local causes.
- By 1917, the Society was holding suppers for the men in the Connecticut National Guard.
- In 1920, the Society held its first-ever rummage sale – a small event confined to a single room of the church – which raised $200 for charity, a surprising amount of money at the time.
- The name, “White Elephant Sale,” was given to the event in 1936 and it thereafter became an annual tradition.
- In the 1950s, the sale briefly expanded to include a country fair, horse show and square dance; then in subsequent decades, evolved into the popular, two-day local tradition we enjoy today.
- During and after World War II, the Society used the proceeds of the sale to support a variety of international charitable causes – including helping an orphan from Czechoslovakia, a church in England and children in China. (Today it benefits more than 25 nonprofit organizations across our region and around the world.)
- Sometime during mid- to late 1900s, the name of the group was changed to the Ladies Benevolent Society. Since that time, as the Society has expanded to include men as well as women, and people of varying faiths and backgrounds, the Society has increasingly gone by just its initials, “LBS.”
- In 2020 and 2021, the sale was canceled for the first (and only) times in its long history due to the coronavirus pandemic.