We have successfully completed our first proper car boot sale. Well, that’s not entirely accurate (again) as we didn’t sell from the car boot but from a market stall. The previous experience had been a complete waste of time and resulted in a net £2 loss so the £80 profit on this occasion was very welcome otherwise it would have been the final attempt. We did have to bring a large amount of ‘stuff’ back home but were 4 boxes and 2 bin bags lighter so that qualifies as a reasonable clear out in my opinion.
The items to sell had been accumulating in the dining room over the preceding few weeks but always with the addendum that they would be disappearing shortly. However, now that a not insignificant proportion has returned we are back to full clutter mode, accentuated by the imminent replacement of the windows in 3 rooms. I had not been able to reach some of the surfaces to clean for some time and there seemed little point in hoovering around trunks, bags and boxes but now it would be futile to clean prior to structural work so the dust and muck levels rise. When the work is completed I’ll be able to sort through the unsold wares to determine their final destination and then give the place a thorough clean. Meanwhile I hope I don’t have any unexpected visitors whom I may want to impress as I’ll fail miserably; friends don’t qualify as they are used to my degrees of chaos.
The sale was quite an experience. My expectations were lower after the previous debacle which were overturned when we were £1 short of covering the cost of the table before 8am. The 7am arrival had seemed quite uncivilised for a bank holiday but did prove effective in order for us to commandeer a prominent pitch, despite not being familiar with this particular market and therefore unsure of what actually defined a ‘good pitch’. We were located in the open market, a Grade II listed, colourful, ornate and intricate canopy providing shelter from the elements which, despite it being a bank holiday, we didn’t actually require. We were in amongst the usual Monday traders who kept us right about who went where and what we should do.
There was quite a blend of professional and amateur traders and we of the latter category found ourselves in a little enclave supported by the experience of 2 previous sales by our neighbour. The other seller was bravely peddling her wares alone. This immediately broke the ice as we kept an eye on her stall when she needed to procure anything from the office or her car, we brought coffee for her but were unable to ‘fetch’ her comfort break. The responses to our questions to each other revealed our naivety and made it quickly apparent that neither of us had much idea how the day would evolve but our neighbours behind were able to enlighten us from their more extensive, albeit still rather limited experience. We shared our joint concern about the embarrassment and mortification of a friend seeing us, not in our traders’ guise which would attract them to our stall but potentially their observation of an unwanted gifts on display, fortunately the situation didn’t arise for any of us. We were also supported by a friendly professional vendor 2 stalls down who had given up work three years previously to carry out market trading as a full-time job. She helpfully volunteered a run-down on all the markets and car boot sales in the surrounding region for next few months. I didn’t want to disillusion her with my lack of commitment.
We had been asked to stay until 3pm which seemed quite a daunting prospect after arriving eight hours previously but the time flew remarkably quickly. To occupy the time I had taken 3 back copies of the Sunday magazine which hadn’t been opened at home, 2 of them remain so and the third was only perused for a few minutes at a stretch. There was a steady flow of prospective customers but never the throngs we were led to believe populated this particular event, apparently due to the competition at the local stadium sale (again!). Our display was re-arranged on several occasions after both a reconnoitre to determine how others presented their goods and the sale of bulkier items leaving spaces to fill with buried articles. The frame around the stall made particularly good hanging areas and in the absence of a clothes rail, proved quite essential. Frequent visits to the front of the stall to both assess the impression and rearrange effects seemed to also encourage passers-by to stop and browse. Perhaps they felt safer if someone else was browsing the stall-holder may be occupied and less likely to engage with them trying to promote a sale which could also result in a rapid retreat. I didn’t spend all my time at the front on this diversionary tactic.
I found the mixed emotions elicited by this process quite a challenge. Second-hand baby and toddler sales years previously had also been rather emotional. In these latter events one is jettisoning a childhood, never to be retrieved. In this instance I am de-cluttering my life. It is necessary but I still found it poignant. I couldn’t decide whether I was more offended when someone didn’t want to purchase a treasured but not used or currently displayed article, despite its knock-down price or more saddened by seeing something so familiar, with its own history, disappear into the depths of a plastic carrier bag along with other detritus of a second-hand market, to be tolerated rather than revered in a new domicile. I had considered the initial selection of items to go to the sale quite traumatic but this was markedly worse. I didn’t actually run after anyone or re-call anything for sentimental reasons but there were some items over which I was not prepared to haggle as their value to me was unquantifiable. Perhaps I have not quite achieved the higher plane of disassociation from material goods, in fact I think I have a very long way to go on that one.
So the returned items have to be sorted, many hopefully finding alternative homes in various charitable forms, either directly for use in the purpose for which they were intended or to sell for funds and there is yet more to trawl through from both the loft and within the house. It was difficult to predict what would sell and I was surprised to find what did and what didn’t even elicit a flicker of interest; is my taste so poor or just not from the more conventional end of the spectrum? The next recommended car boot sale is located on a nearby football pitch and is so popular that I am reliably informed the queue for the 100 pitches starts at 4am. I really don’t think my commitment or the return is sufficient to endure that on a Sunday morning with no shelter from the elements, just being subjected to the vagaries of the British weather which, in July and August, could even be unrelenting sunshine and no shade at best but horizontal rain and biting wind at worst. Unfortunately I will be away in Scotland on the August Bank Holiday otherwise I could really see myself participating in the Monday market sale again which, apparently, was heaving last year!