Bargain hunters and fashionistas, get ready! The sprawling Ladies Board Rummage Sale this weekend at Morven Park’s equestrian center has something for everyone—from posh frocks to cool decor. So, whether vintage dolls or Burberry trench coats are your jam, here are a few highlights and tips for navigating the Mid-Atlantic’s biggest rummage sale.
She’s Got the Look
When Alexia Orr took over the rummage sale’s high-end women’s clothing boutique four years ago, she made a few important changes. Orr rebranded the longstanding French Room (think old-school designer cast offs from Middleburg socialites), changing the name to The Look and shifting the focus to more contemporary fashions. Orr also moved the upscale boutique from a separate outbuilding to its own corner of the sale’s main barn.
Orr, who has five adult children, including four daughters in their 20s, is plugged into current fashion and has a great eye for hot looks and labels. With a list of brands supplied by her daughters, she set out to create a self-contained boutique with a younger, hipper feel. Finding the best donations is a year-round project for the glamorous Orr, who is also the current Inova Loudoun Ladies Board president. And during the past few years, she’s created an inviting spot at the sale, complete with elegant lighting and heated dressing rooms. Orr draws in shoppers with hip displays and cute signs. And while the prices at The Look aren’t rock bottom as in some departments at the sale—there are still some terrific bargains for folks in the know.
This year, The Look boasts even more contemporary fashions than in the past, including great shoes, Orr said, with donations of Hunter and Ugg boots and clothing lines like Madewell, Anthropologie, Burberry and other favorites flowing in. Orr has also expanded her trendy, upscale mini-bridal boutique offering great gowns for around $50.
“We are taking it up a notch,” Orr said.
But there’s one holdover from the French Room that continues to attract shoppers in droves: vintage fur coats are still hot. And are a big draw for early-bird shoppers who go specifically for furs. Last year, Orr’s first sale of the day was $1,200 in furs to a single eager customer.
“The really nice ones are gone usually within the first 20 minutes,” Orr said.
Dolls Galore and Much More in Antiques
From fine furniture and pristine china sets to retro kitchenware and eclectic odds and ends, the rummage sale’s Antiques department is another big draw for bargain hunters—and the knowledgeable early bird crowd.
Every year, collectors and the curious flock to the department for antique trunks and chests, metal milk cans and tons of gorgeous furniture. Every year, the department styles a separate Kitchen Corner with retro cool items and mid-century modern finds. And this year, department co-chair Judy Swezey says one of the top finds this year is a stunning tiered glass baker’s rack worth around $600.
Like The Look, the antiques department has made efforts in recent years to appeal to GenX and millennial shoppers, keeping up with the shabby chic trend in antiques. The department offers lots of gorgeous high-end furniture but also tons of stuff that can be repurposed (think retro chic furniture for folks who like chalk paint)—complete with staff suggestions on creative uses, said Holly Raymond, a antiques former department chair who’s now the sale’s repurposing guru.
Favorite finds in the antiques corner include vintage Mason jars, musical instruments, records, baseball cards and magazines. And a staff favorite is the annual landslide of vintage dolls that descend on the department—from perfectly preserved collectors’ items to the slightly creepy wild-eyed babies that undoubtedly have an interesting history. They always sell like hotcakes, organizers say, so if you’re into dolls, come early.
While the high-end departments are a big draw for collectors, there are also loads of dirt-cheap bargains to be found—in men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, electronics and housewares. And some of the best deals of all are in children’s clothing and books. Both of these departments are so popular and expansive they have buildings of their own on the equestrian center property. In the children’s department, shoppers can stuff a plastic grocery bag to the brim for just $8 with clothing from infants to teens. And the book barn is a reader’s dream, with rows of well-organized volumes from classics to cookbooks. The department does draw collectors on the hunt for rare finds, but it’s also perfect for folks looking for great reads on the cheap. Other outbuildings offer big bargains in toys, sporting equipment and holiday items.
Start Early, End Late
For in-the-know shoppers and collectors, it pays to early bird. Spending a little extra to get in an extra hour of shopping is well worth the price for the truly committed. For an extra donation, sale gates open at 8 a.m. Saturday. Early bird tickets are available in advance at the Inova Loudoun Hospital gift shop, the Twice is Nice thrift shop and online for $12. For an extra $3, you can buy early bird tickets the morning of the sale. Enthusiastic bargain hunters start lining up as early as 6:15 on Saturday so grab a coffee and get ready to wait in line.
On the flip side, Sunday is sale day, and the closer you get to the 3 p.m. closing time, the cheaper the bargains as departments slash prices to get rid of inventory. You may not get the cream of the crop, but you’ll save big time on the leftovers. Many departments slash prices in half while others (like antiques) are open to bargaining.
Don’t Miss It!
Whether you’re a serious collector or just curious, this once-a-year bonanza is not to be missed. And it’s for a great cause, with proceeds going to nursing scholarships, improvements at the hospital’s Cornwall campus and other needed items at the hospital. The sale also includes food vendors and plenty of porta-potties. Many departments are now taking credit cards, but bring cash for smaller purchases. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes since the sale covers lots of territory and barns can be dusty. And don’t forget to check out the website and download a map to plan your shopping strategy.
The 79th annual Inova Loudoun Hospital Ladies Board Rummage Sale is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, and Sunday, Oct. 15, at Morven Park Equestrian Center, 41580 Sunday Morning Lane, Leesburg. Admission is free during those hours; tickets for the 8-9 a.m. Saturday early bird hour are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. See more information at ladiesboard.org/rummage-sale.