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Buying & selling

Kicking the Boot

I love a good bargain! Always have, ever since snapping up a shiny Corgi Starsky and Hutch Gran Torino for five packs of Hubba Bubba at primary school (he shoots, he scores!) Mud, on the other hand, I’m not so keen on. Or drizzle. I’m also of the firm belief that Sundays don’t officially start until sometime after 10am(ish). Or later, preferably.

But those bargains? Yes; can’t get enough of them. So the idea that I can snap up something on Preloved that’s as good as new for a snip of what it originally cost makes me happier than the average Instagram shareholder.

And with thousands more items added every day, the deals keep coming round the corner faster than Sir Chris Hoy on a second hand cycle. For me, there’s nothing better than sitting back in a comfy chair with the laptop, perhaps with a hot cuppa and a packet of Hob Nobs to hand, seeing what takes my eye. Or, if I’m out and about, browsing on the mobile site means I can crack on with my day without missing any of the latest deals.

It’s the same with quickly selling off the stuff I no longer need. Snap a few pictures, write a quick description and wait for the enquiries to come in. It’s quick, easy and I can do it anywhere (and there’s still not a patch of mud in sight or a single spit of rain).

Which is why I fail to understand the enduring appeal of a peculiarly British weekend ritual beloved by both bargain hunters and sellers alike. While I, like millions of other sensible individuals,

Woman at a flea market looking up at goods at a flea market. Shallow focus on items in foreground.

Woman at a flea market looking up at goods at a flea market. Shallow focus on items in foreground.

am enjoying the snug and deliciously smug reward of a well-deserved weekend lie-in, thousands of others are crawling out bleary-eyed from under duvets and shivering in the stark cold grey light of dawn. Grabbing whatever clothes come to hand, they fumble about for car keys and then drive off to some out-of-the-way muddy field or ex-airfield where an unforgiving wind blows in straight from Siberia.

Then, after finally getting to the front of the traffic queue to get in, these apparent gluttons for punishment wrestle with a trestle table and risk a hernia hefting heavy boxes onto its straining surface to set up ‘shop’.

And they’ve made it! They have successfully staked their place (about 50 rows back, in between the burger van and a vast oily puddle) in a national pastime that has become an enshrined part of the weekend – the Car Boot Sale!  Hurrah! Time to crack open the flask and celebrate with a cup of tepid tea and a bacon roll that’s tougher than a Royal Marine’s training.

Of course, I’ve had a go myself (who hasn’t?). Stood about in the drizzle. Jumped up and down in an attempt to stave off hypothermia. Sipped cold coffee while being worn down by the masterful negotiation skills of some determined bloke trying to convince me that my old copies of GQ magazine are not worth anywhere near the 50p I’m asking and would I take 17p instead? (“Yes! Now *&*% off!”) I’ve even had the odd item bought from me by some shifty looking geezer and seen it re-appear on his stall a few rows down with an increased asking price.

And, like everyone else, I’ve hung on to the dream that the tatty old vase I bought for a quid would eventually lead me to a slot on The Antiques Roadshow where I would stand, red-faced, as Fiona Bruce giddily gushed about how awfully clever I was and an expert said something about “Ming Dynasty… Early 14th Century… Lots of interest in the Asian market… Conservative estimate of £3 million.”  In reality, I’d spend my time rummaging through an endless array of things ‘Made in China’ that were unlikely to create much of a stir on the international market.

So, by the time I’d realised that the princely sum of £13.89 rattling around in my tin was to be my total takings, I’d drawn up my Top Ten list of good reasons why I’d be sticking to selling online in the future. That was once I’d gone another round wrestling that trestle table, loaded all the stuff back into the car, joined the traffic jam to get out, filled up with petrol on the way home, unpacked it all again at the other end….

  1. It’s FREE to sell – there’s no pitch prices, fuel costs and hours spent hanging around
  2. You can advertise your unwanted items 24/7, while you get on with doing the things you want to, like watching telly, cooking, going for a relaxing walk (to the pub), sleeping!
  3. You don’t need a car boot. Or a car. Or a highly rickety decorating table. Instead you get a professional looking advert with a good description and a selection of images or even video.
  4. You can have all the space you need; rather than trying to pile everything high on a single pitch. And you can sell large items, like furniture, boats, cars and even houses (try getting those in your car boot!)
  5. Rather than waiting for the car boot ‘season’ to start you can sell every day of the week, all year round
  6. You don’t get wet, cold, bored, stuck in a cramped camp chair reading the paper for the thirteenth time.
  7. You can advertise your stuff to an audience of millions to ensure you get the best price and widest exposure. And you can also find a fantastic selection of things to buy!
  8. You can arrange a time to meet potential buyers, rather than just surviving the scrummage with all your teeth intact once you open the boot of your car.
  9. While your stuff is selling online, you can enjoy your free time, perhaps by taking a leisurely stroll around a local car boot sale (but only if the sun’s shining and after your Sunday morning lie-in)
  10. You don’t have to get up at 6am on a Sunday morning
  11. You don’t have to get up at 6AM ON A SUNDAY MORNING! (OK, I know I said Top Ten good reasons, but that one’s worth repeating!)

Car boot sales? I’m kicking the habit and giving them the boot! What about you?

Amy Lockley

Amy Lockley

Writer and expert

Amy is the Head of Community at Preloved. In her spare time, she loves volunteering for a rabbit charity, having crafting weekends and kite boarding in Morecombe which is always combined with a camping adventure! She is always on the hunt for a bargain whether that be at car boots, house clearances or charity shops.