River Oaks’ Iconic Clearance Sale Returns With Must-Try Pieces

A popular commercial extravaganza that dates back to World War II is causing a stir with its first event since the pandemic. The long date Pink Elephant Salea local get-together hosted by the River Oaks Garden Club, is back this weekend after a two-year hiatus.

Hordes of out-of-state River Oaks shoppers will line up Friday and Saturday, September 16 and 17 at the Bayou City Event Center, 9401 Knight Rd. Admission to the highly anticipated affair is $1.

Considered by many in River Oaks, Houston, and far beyond as the grande dame of garage sales, the Pink Elephant sale features clothing, antiques, collectibles, bric-a-brac, toys (lots of old ones), household items, accessories, hats, shoes, etc. A big draw is the furniture; here, River Oaks families donate hardwood pieces meant to stand the test of time – at a fraction of their original price.

“We also have mid-century modern chairs, old English pieces – I’m looking at the French chest of drawers right now,” sale co-chair and ROGC member Vicki Lange told CultureMap from the floor of the sale. .

Considering the source of the donated items, pieces include high fashion clothing and fine jewelry, as well as classic pieces. Rare designer items (CultureMap once found a stunning herringbone jacket) sit alongside costume jewelry, faux fur items, handbags and more.

“If you want it, it’s here,” Lange says. “We call it the best recycling ever.”

A cherished tradition, the sale also connects donors with buyers. “A young couple bought estate furniture,” Lange recalled. “The following year they printed out a picture of the furniture in their house and showed it to the donor – she burst into tears knowing it was in a good house.”

Thrifty shoppers can also rest assured that their money is going to a good cause (apart from their bottom line). Funds raised from the sale support the Garden Club’s Bayou Bend education, horticulture, conservation and support programs.

Dating back to World War II, the sale of the Pink Elephant was originally dubbed the River Oaks Green Market, a farmers’ market held by the founders of the Garden Club. In 1952, the sale morphed into what is now the Pink Elephant Sale. Lange jokes that she is still researching the origin of the colorful name.

Looking ahead, with over 1,800 sales in 2019, Lange expects many or more this weekend. Houston-area shoppers shouldn’t sleep on this one, as word has spread across the region, state, and even beyond. “We have a family that drives in from Louisiana every year,” says Lange. “They even bring lawn chairs to sit in line.”


The annual River Oaks Garden Club Pink Elephant Sale runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, September 16 and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, September 17 at the Bayou City Event Center, 9401 Knight Rd. For more information , visit River Oaks Garden Club online. Admission is $1.

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