It moved into an empty store one year, then the fairgrounds, and now, in its 75th year, a giant equestrian center can barely contain all the flotsam and jetsam of suburban life: 400,000 square feet packed with the elliptical cross-trainer that dad never got around to using, the bikes the kids outgrew, the china set Auntie picked out for the wedding.
It’s amazing how much there is, Chatfield-Taylor said, sitting on a flowered sofa surrounded by more flowered sofas flanked by leather sofas in the middle of an indoor arena. At 94, she worked long days this week helping sort through it all. “People have more stuff now. I’ve got too much stuff — yet I come and buy more stuff.”
Here it all is, the old Loudoun and the new: White-haired ladies wearing the pearls they bought at last year’s sale, teasing one another as they sorted through the pots and pans that never got used anymore after work and a long commute home.
Now the rummage sale, which runs Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., sprawls across four barns, two indoor arenas and more at the Morven Park Equestrian Center outside Leesburg and requires hundreds of volunteers, including some who come back even after they’ve moved away.
They sort through donations, some of which exemplify the wealth of the county, where the median household income is $118,000: a full-length sable coat, a big flat-screen TV, a snowboard still wrapped in plastic, a box of new Coach purses and wallets, a never-worn tuxedo, a piano, a 10-foot-long mirror, an artificial Christmas tree draped with organza ribbon and gleaming ornaments.
“It’s the society we live in, I guess,” said Franklin Payne, 87, who has been helping the ladies for decades.
Lillian Brewer sometimes gasps when she opens a box, amazed at what some are willing to part with. But she knows there are people retiring, moving from a 6,000-square-foot house with a three-car garage to a tiny condo. People move here, they move away. People get divorced. “It’s just that there is so much more of everything,” she said. “We are a disposable generation, I guess.”
And there it all sits, piled on tables in great barns, or plunked right in the dirt. There are horse stalls full of golf clubs, skis, silk flowers, puzzles, toy trucks (and a sign still taped to a board, reminding people to muck out their stalls.) There are so many books that the barn has signs everywhere, directing shoppers: Low-fat cooking. French cooking. David Baldacci. Mary Higgins Clark.
And, yes, there is plenty of eccentricity. But typical yard sale castoffs, they are not. Someone donated a bunch of horse saddles this year. There’s a portable cement mixer from the 1950s. There’s a lawn mower, an antique desk, a furry lion Halloween costume. An Oleg Cassini wedding dress hangs alongside velvet and silk evening gowns. There’s a German-made violin, a woven wicker picnic basket, a chain saw and a
seven-foot-long toy Jeep.