Monday, 28 May 2012

What's a car boot sale ?

Good morning. Before I start the days chores, well not really chores life is more like a hobby really, I will do a quick post here to answer a question from Marnie. I get a few questions which I am happy to answer, although forgive me if one or two slip my mind, I have so much clutter going on in there, some of them get filed under 'answer later', and then I forget, ha ha. This is from Marnie.....

I have really enjoyed reading your blog entries since I discovered you quite by accident. I do have questions once in a while, however, so I thought I'd just leave you a post. What in the world is a "car boot" sale? I am from Tennessee in the USA and I am familiar with garage sales, yard sales, estate sales, etc. but that terminology is foreign to me. Have a beautiful day! Marnie

Hi Marnie, and anyone else from abroad, that is people from other countries. Those from the UK can skip this bit because it might be boring to you.  A car boot sale is similar to what you call garage or yard sale, only here, people put their excess stuff they want to get rid of in their car and drive to a site. Our local boot sale is on the car park at the football ground, but they can be anywhere. A lot are on big fields on the outskirts of towns, or the smaller ones can be on school playgrounds, these are usually for raising funds for the school.

A charge is made for your pitch, for smaller boot sales it might be £3, avarage is £5, huge massive ones with hundreds of pitches are between £5 and £10. You park your car where you are directed to. You can use a van if you like, or add a trailer, though this will cost more as you take up more space. You don't need to book unless it is a smaller site with limited space, most of them you just turn up. They generally start at some ridiculously early time of 6am, mostly on a Sunday, some people turn up at 5am to get the position they want. You take your own tables with you, some take a plastic sheet and lay all their stuff on the ground. Depending on how busy it is, some sellers will pack up and go home at about 11 - 12noon. If it is sunny and loads of punters are milling about, it will stay open longer.

First thing you get some traders prowling round, they are hoping to pick up something of great value for very little money, so they can make a killing when they resell it. I get very annoyed with them when they start poking in the boxes before you have had a chance to unload. I shut my doors and say I'm not getting it out till they have gone away.

It is best to price up your stuff before you go, because you can make mistakes later on if you guess. People will try and knock you down, if it is priced you can say 'I am not prepared to go any lower, take it of leave it'. When I am buying I offer a lower price if I think it is not worth the asking price. Most things are ridiculously cheap, so for the sake of getting ten pence off I don't bother, just pay it. If you are buying and want cheap bargains it's best to go an hour before it is due to close, because then sellers start reducing prices as they don't want to load their tat back into the car and take it home again.

Because most of the sales are outdoor they are seasonal, Spring through to Autumn. Some can be held indoors in huge barns. Most are on a weekly basis, they are advertised in newspapers and on posters. When a sale becomes established most people get to know when and where they are and what time to go. A lot of advertising is done word of mouth, people tell each other.

The variety of goods on sale could be almost anything. They were created as a way for people to sell their own belongings which they no longer need. Now the boundaries are somewhat fuzzy as small time traders now attend to sell their wares, obviously buying in their stock. Traders usually have to pay more rent. Some people try and disguise the fact that they are traders, by buying in bricabrac from other sellers, or from jumble sales or house clearance, or auctions, and try to pass it off as their own. Boot sales are ocassionally visited by people from the Inland Revenue, presumably to catch traders who are not registered as a business.

There are some rules as to what you can't sell, mainly the obvious ones like no livestock, drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol. For someone setting up a home for the first time there is an abundance of household stuff, including furniture and garden equipment. Lots of childrens toys, baby equipment, lots of clothes, and some highly collectables. You really have to root through it all, it's amazing what people sell.

It can be very tempting to buy something you don't really need, because things are so cheap, you might think at that price I might as well have it. If you go every week, and buy something, you might end up with far too much tat in your house and then have to sell it or give it away. It's much harder to keep to the rule of only buying what you need and not what you want.

Hope that has answered your question Marnie. Thank you for reading my blog.


  1. I'm forever sniffing in flea markets, car boot sales and recycling plastic bags and clothing to decorate our revamped apartment in Miami.
    I found an old dinner table and 6 Verace looking chairs for $250 in total, meanwhile one chair actually had the value of $250 ea.
    I've crocheted a beautiful big brown tote out of old plastic bags which I cut into strips.

    I've sewn a cordoroy cell phone cover from my hubbies old cordoroy jeans for my Tracfone smart phone LG500G, so that I don't scratch it's touch screen.
    I've sewn a handbag from my jeans pants which were to small for me.
    I've filled up my kids old wellington boots that don't fit them anymore with soil and flowers and hung them on my shed wall.
    I'm constantly on the look out for inspiration to recycle old stuff into something beautiful or useful.
    Your blog is great for ideas and really gets my juices flowing. Thank you.

  2. Boot sales are a joy. We decorated Little'un's nursery in Mothercare-branded Winnie-the-Pooh curtains, lightshade, duvet, blanket, nappy holder and mobile for £7 thanks to a big bootsale in Oxfordshire that's been running for years.

    I have fond memories of going many times with my mum and driving home afterwards with the car so full of plants that it looked like a mobile greenhouse, or with a wardrobe tied to the roof...

  3. We're doing well at Car Boot sales this year, getting rid of all our unwanted stuff, plus sadly parting with things that lovely Mum in law left when she died and that my Dad had stockpiled over the years. Sad to do, but an efficient way of disposing of stuff and getting a little bit back for the family.

    Sue xx

  4. I believe a flea market is similar to our car boot.I used to go to them when living in colorado


  5. Another good post Ilona. I want to add that your bog is my favorite. Its good to read, interesting, informative and fun. You are not writing books and trying to sell them to us, no adverts,no "best blog" awards, no "agenda" at all. All that comes over is your love of sharing with others. Well done.

  6. May I just add that 'car boot' can be translated as 'car trunk'.

  7. Car Boot Sale == Swap Meet (well, if you are in Canada)

  8. I am from Tennessee, living in Alabama, and have long known our car "trunk" is your "boot." That comes from reading British novels, not sure which.

    Many flea markets here do not allow cars. Others, like two near me are held in large fields and allow cars and vans. One has permanent wooden tables built so that all you have to do is back in your car, truck, or van and set up on the table. The other is about 30 acres and has hundreds of spots to put a vehicle. Some pitch tents over their wares. Most of the vendors get their about 3 am and set up. Buyers often come around 4:30 with their flashlights. Some people sell out before the sun comes up. By 10 or 11 am, the place is virtually empty. I don't need to sell or buy enough to go there! I went once about 9:30. That was enough for me.
    Around here, you cannot equate a flea market or swap meet with having it in your trunk to sell. Some places don't allow cars on the ground after setup time. It just all depends. Some places have all wares in sheds without walls or buildings. Occasionally, the do allow some cars to set up and sell from trunks. There is not hard and fast rule. You just have to enquire or know what to expect if you are selling.

    Yard sale, garage sale can be held in basement, porch or back yard. We just use them all interchangeably. Besides, we comment that no one ever really sells their yard, garage, or basement. I went to a yard sale in a church parking lot this weekend.

    Sometimes, downtown businesses will have a sidewalk sale where they take items that are reduced and put them out on the sidewalk to sell. One business that is free-standing invites a select group to come set up at his yardsale, despite not have one bit of grass on the parking lot that covers three sides of his building.

  9. Yes, I think Marnie's confusion is the word 'boot' which the US calls a 'trunk'. Then there is the mystery of what's under the bonnet -- the hood! And they say we all speak the same language. Try using the word 'spanner' with most Americans and you'll get a blank look.

  10. It's interesting to read PP's description on the boot type sales over the pond. A good idea to have the tables already set up, saves lugging them about in your own car. I like the idea of a sidewalk sale where you can put unwanted stuff outside on the pavement. If we did that here we would get into trouble with the authorities for blocking the highway, and setting up a market stall without a licence. Such are the silly strict laws we have here. In the interests of recycling I think we should be able to sell our posessions where ever we like.

  11. Car boots are great for earning a bit of cash on your brick a brack that you want to clear out. Childrens toys, books, and clothes because they get through them so fast.

    But as you say, it is so easy to buy things that you dont really want.. Keep your money in your pocket and use Freecycle to get the items you would like or need. Its all free. You post for what you would like to give away or receive, and people who have what you want or want what you have will get in touch and you make arrangements between you to go and pick the items up at a convenient time.
    It was started in order to keep items out of landfill that could be used and loved by someone else. You can give or receive pretty much anything on there, except for animals, which believe it or not some people try to do!

    1. Thanks so much for taking time to explain car boot sales to me. Your car boot sales are, indeed, similar to our flea markets. When I lived in Texas for 17 years I loved going to a small town outside of Dallas where a monthly flea market called "First Mondays" took place. It was absolutely impossible to EVER see all of it unless you spent a couple of days. People come from all over the states to attend that thing and it's been there forever getting bigger every year. One can find almost anything, including antiques, and prices range from cheap to expensive, depending on what one is looking for. And local merchants DO move much of their wares to the sidewalk outside their businesses to attract more people...just once a month. Marnie

  12. And "chuffed" is happy, pleased, thrilled, honored??? Marnie here, again...


I have had to bring back Word Verification, to try and deter spammers.

Please choose the 'Name' option and put your name or whatever you call yourself, in the box. Thank you.