Packing up the house for France has unearthed lots of belongings that we either no longer want, need, can’t justify putting into storage (cheap Christmas decorations for one example) or can no longer use – like multiple bags of clothing I can no longer fit into that have been stored in the loft ready for the day I lost weight (that day never came *sobs*).
Looking at all this stuff that needed to be gotten rid of, I had the genius idea that we should do a car boot sale. It will be great, I said. Rather than send it all to landfill (very bad) we could sell it, and whatever was left could be taken to the charity shop, I enthused.
The hubby wasn’t convinced. No one is going to buy this crap, he insisted. We will haul all of it there only to have to haul it all back again, he moaned. It will be a complete waste of time, he said.
So it was with gritted teeth and a reassuring smile that I dragged both of us out of bed at 5.30am last Saturday and off to Stoke Newington to sell our wares. The hubby wasn’t going to stay with us – that duty had been passed to my sister and her bump, much to the hubby’s relief – on the condition that he helped us off-load all the boxes and picked us up at the end of the day.
And what a great day it was! The sun shone, there were loads of punters and before too long we had crowds of people clamouring to buy our goods.
What an insight into human beings do car boot sales offer! An anthropologist’s field day, it was a revelation to see how people shop at these places.
First there was the professional buyer. These were the people rummaging around in your boxes before you’d even unpacked them, wanting to know if you had electrical items, mobile phones or perfume (who buys second hand perfume), keen to get the best deal of the day – presumably to sell on at marked up prices to some mug further down the road. Top tip: keep an eye on your handbag otherwise you find unwanted hands in it.
Then there was the bargain hunter, for whom a car boot sale is paradise, particularly when they find stalls like ours which had priced everything to sell. A pair of curtains could be picked up for £1 and items of clothing for as little as 20p each. One woman managed to deck out almost her entire kitchen for less than a fiver.
It’s amazing what people will buy. A collection of used gift bags that had once contained Christmas and birthday presents; random plastic cups stamped with logos from food and wine festivals; broken or slightly dusty-looking oddments of crockery and jars – they all went, and quickly too.
Given that everything was so cheap, I was amazed at the lengths some people went to get the price knocked down further still. For example…
…We would agree a price of £3 but they would only hand over £2 and then look surprised when the extra £1 was requested…
…They would grab an armful of clothes at 20p an item and then ask for another two items to be thrown in for free because they were such good customers – and then threaten to put the rest back if you didn’t agree (no skin off my nose, would rather take it to the charity shop than be taken the piss out of)…
…Some people would spend hours deliberating over an item as if it was the most expensive and important purchase they were ever going to make. One chap spent 15 minutes mulling over a cat bowl that was on sale for 10p. What is there to think about? It’s a cat bowl, and it’s 10p.
…or the worst were the thieves. At one point around six ladies and their swarm of children descended on the stall en masse, all passing items around for approval, picking things up, putting them down again, rummaging through boxes of clothes, repeatedly changing their minds about what they wanted to buy. I am convinced sleight of hand resulted in a few items making their way off our stall unpaid for. Which is a bloody cheek given how cheap we had priced it all.
By 2pm both us and our supplies had been exhausted and so we packed up what was left and took it to the charity shop before heading to the pub for a well-earned drink paid for with the proceeds from the day. With over £100 in my pocket and having had spent a fab day with my sister, I was well chuffed – and not least because I’d proven the hubby wrong (which is always good!).
We attended the car boot sale at Princess May Primary School in Stoke Newington but there are loads of others across London that are equally as good. Have a read of this Time Out article or head to one of these: