After 50 years, tiny Placer County town's White Elephant Sale going strong

Sale a beloved fixture for Dutch Flat area
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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DUTCH FLAT — Take thousands of donated bric-a-brac items and antiques.

Add the vibrant Sierra community of Dutch Flat and a host of volunteers.

Put them in a two-story 120-year old former grammar school and throw in a tennis court and railroad caboose to provide space for all the overflow of donations for sale.

And you end up once again with a Dutch Flat Labor Day weekend tradition — a gigantic white elephant sale that has been going strong for 50 years.

“The Community Club of the time needed a fundraiser,” event co-chairman Bob Kims said. “It started off as a couple of tables in someone’s front yard.”

Last year, the two-day sale earned $14,000 for upkeep at the 933 Stockton Street Community Center the Dutch Flat Community White Elephant Sale is located at.

“While the building is structurally sound, it needs a new roof, new windows and basement work to reduce seepage,” Kims said.

The hall is a focal point in a community that numbers all of 200, according to the last census. Weddings, concerts and potlucks are regularly held in the sturdy relic of Dutch Flat’s olden days as it finds continuing value in modern times. Halloween, Easter and July 4 events gravitate to a fine old building.

Kims said he’s seen oddities like a foot-operated grinding wheel pass through the old schoolyard gates after finding a new home.

One year, a man found a set of china he’d been trying to complete for years. It was the type that his family had dined on when he was a child and his search ended with a little mist in the eye of at least one White Elephant Sale volunteer, Kims said, with a little mist in his own eye.

The treasures among the bric-a-brac are many and sometimes unintentional.

A teapot came with a note inside spotted by a sharp-eyed volunteer during a cleaning. It said that the teapot was once owned by an aunt from the 1850s. Organizers were able to track down the teapot donor and return it.

“She said that her mother-in-law would have never forgiven her,” Kims said.

On Sept. 1 and 2, a Saturday and a Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Community Center will open its doors once again and let the bargain seekers and the treasure hunters in.

“It’s not a junk sale and not a flea market,” Kims said. “We step it up a bit, provide a nice display and keep prices reasonable.”