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If you have lived in Green Valley or Sahuarita for more than a couple of months, you are likely familiar with the White Elephant Thrift Store. You know, that place where every Monday through Saturday at nine o’clock morning hundreds of people gather at the entrance eagerly anticipating finding newly stocked treasures.

In addition to finding treasures in the store, The White Elephant Thrift store also sells items through eBay. 

White Elephant volunteer, Barney Foster, heads the eBay auction. He has been a volunteer with the White Elephant for three or four years.  He can’t recall.  He’s that’s busy. Barney works two to three mornings a week receiving donations.  It’s some of those donations that make it to eBay.

Photo of Barney Foster
Thrift store volunteer, Barney Foster, researches the value and descriptions of potential eBay store items. Photo Credit: Susan Stein Kregar

For the past 14 years, a team of eagle-eyed treasure hunters scours the freshly donated items. Once an item has been selected, it is secured in the eBay cage until it is ready for evaluation by the Collectibles team. The item is researched for its condition, origin, value, and comparable pricing. Most of Barney’s research is done at home, where he works for another three and half hours daily. Once an item is deemed eBay-worthy, it begins its seven-day online sale that starts Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Arizona time. If the item is not sold, it goes to the thrift store sales floor.

The most popular items sold on eBay are electronics, antique toys, wooden puzzles, jewelry, and Native American art. Toys, according to Barney, fetch more money when still in the original, unopened packaging.  Recently a toy was donated in a vintage box that was not for the toy. The empty box sold for $30 more than the toy because the buyer wanted the box.

Hmm, I’ve Never Seen That Before

The most unusual piece to cross Barney’s path was a 1954 Seeburg Jukebox. “It came complete with 45 rpm records. Mint condition!” It sold for $4,551 to a buyer in Provo, UT.

Items deemed worthy await their turn on eBay in the eBay cage. Photo Credit: Susan Stein Kregar

A buyer in Missouri who loved Western art bought an 11-foot stainless steel, two-arm saguaro for $1,300. Fortunately, she saved a bundle on the shipping. Her neighbor was in the area and was able to drive it to her. 

As of press time, a platinum filigree diamond ring was listed with a starting bid of $3,800. 

“Can you imagine anyone spending $3,000 in a thrift store?” exclaims Barney.

When unusual or valuable items are received at the donation drop-off, team members set them aside for Barney to consider for an eBay sale.  A large copper cauldron with a base was destined for recycling, but was brought to Barney instead.  He thinks it is a “Rare PA Antique Copper Apple Butter Kettle Cauldron” and is listed for $1,200.

The most unusual item Barney has come across is a big pile of diaper liners . . . and it sold.

A unique element of the items for sale a TWE is that items donated come from all over the state, even internationally.  A large portion of Green Valley’s residents are not from Arizona. Therefore, many of the items they bring have a flair from their region.  


Banner for CFWE

China vs. china

Customers from all over the globe spend money at The White Elephant through e-Bay. That’s money that goes into the local economy. China, Barney says, is a “pretty good customer.”

TWE is taking in a lot of china. Most young people no longer want their parents’ or grandparents’ china as previous generations did.  Therefore, there is plenty to select from on the shelves inside the thrift store. The auction sold 159 pieces of Depression-Era china.

Photos of Pyrex Bowls
A collection of Pyrex bowls waiting to make complete sets. Susan Stein Kregar

Though not as delicate, Pyrex is a popular item.  A full set of the vintage colored mixing bowls could go for $150.  Barney holds back individual bowls that are in good condition until he can make a full set.

Online Sales Soar

The lockdown was challenging for TWE, says Barney. Few people were allowed inside the building. Under normal circumstances, volunteers scour the racks and newly received items to find potential eBay sales.  “During those six months, I was the only volunteer allowed inside because I do eBay. I had to go through the building and find items I thought would sell.” 

And he certainly did. During those six and half months, his digging brought in $23,000. 

“It was an interesting time,” he reflects. “(COVID) made things difficult, but we moved through it.”

Shop From Anywhere, Anytime

To shop TWE’s eBay store, visit Click on “Advanced Search” on the top right and select “Items By Seller.” Type cfwe12345 into the seller number box, click the search button, and start shopping!

Important Note: TWE’s long-standing eBay account, cfwe1234, was compromised.  Everything has been moved to a new account with the seller ID cfwe12345. 

Customer pick-up hours are Monday thru Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Revenue generated by eBay sales is just like the store’s sales. They go into the general fund to be donated to more than 130 local schools and charitable service organizations throughout Green Valley, Sahuarita, and the Santa Cruz Valley.

About The Country Fair White Elephant

The Country Fair White Elephant Thrift Store was established in 1964 by a handful of volunteers looking for a way to support their community. From those early beginnings, the store has grown to more than 600 dedicated volunteers, working 6 days a week, processing, cleaning and pricing gently used goods for re-sale to the public.

Revenue generated by store sales is contributed each year to more than 130 local schools and charitable service organizations throughout Green Valley, Sahuarita and the Santa Cruz Valley, and the demand continues to grow.

Over $2.2 Million in revenue is generated each year and $1.75 Million goes back directly to community organizations who are recipients of White Elephant grants and to our local students who are recipients of a scholarship through our Country Fair White Elephant Scholarship Foundation. The White Elephant is proud to be able to contribute money right back to our local communities through our granting process. So whether you are a volunteer, a donor, or a shopper, your contributions to the White Elephant are so appreciated by this organization. From all of us here at the White Elephant, thank you for your continued support.

Photos Courtesy of Guy Atchley