We’d been meaning to do it for ages, but you know how it is, somehow there never seems to be enough time. So we decided to allocate one entire weekend purely for the purpose of
SORTING OUT THE JUNK.
What triggered us into getting our butts into gear was there was some work needed doing in the kitchen and we had to replace our front fence. We priced the jobs, and quite honestly, we just didn’t have the money, even doing it ourselves.
Hubby and I work pretty well as a team. We’ve accomplished a lot together and once something is built (coal bunker) or put in (replacement back door), it ain’t goin’ anywhere! We’re not afraid of getting dirty either, so the thought of putting in new fence posts was no problem.
You know what they say, one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure, and over a period of 5 years, it was surprising how much stuff we had accumulated. It was just sitting there, either in the shed or the garage, doing absolutely nothing apart from attract spiders, dust and the occasional mouse droppings. Dead money, and we needed it!
Years ago, car boot sales really took off in the UK. For a pitch fee of around £5 you can sell more or less anything and have a lot of fun doing so. We use to haunt a lot in the early days as we had very little spare money. You could get some bargains if you were lucky and cheap too if you were cheeky! I got our first dining table from a car boot. I was dead chuffed as I’d knocked him down from a fiver to £3. Twenty odd years later, now was the time to become sellers rather than buyers.
We divided the job into His and Hers, with Hubby spending most of Saturday in the shed (I could see bits and pieces flying out over his shoulder so assumed they were for the bin) whereas my duty was the cupboards indoors. There is no loft here, so nothing needed to be retrieved out of the roof, which is good as I don’t have a head for heights and ladders make me extremely nervous.
The problem with sorting stuff out of course is you can guarantee that as soon as you’ve got rid of it, you’ll wish you still had it, so we made a strict rule that if we hadn’t used it (or it hadn’t seen daylight) in the past six months, it was game to go. I found sheets still in their packaging that I’d bought ages ago for a single bed we no longer have, towels too light in colour to be practical for us but never used, crockery that had been bought on a whim and not liked, gifts we’d been given that were unsuitable (whiskey tumblers for instance as we don’t drink). The dining table was soon laden and I’d only just started. By the time the first tea break came up, Hubby had disappeared behind the wheelbarrow which was now full of things I didn’t even know we had in the first place!
By the end of the day, we’d moved everything into the conservatory for official sorting and pricing with the assistance of loads of plastic bags, a stapler, permanent marker and sticky labels. He could have opened a plumbers shop with all the washers, pipes, bungs, taps, fittings and stuff he’d unearthed whereas I could have gone into haberdashery, pottery and glassware sales. It was totally unbelievable what and how much we had to offer, most of it unused.
We decided to check out a local sale to see what was available these days and how much people were asking. We deliberately went with no money so as not to be tempted to start a new collection before disposing of the old one! We were pleasantly surprised that we had several similar items and that our pricing was fair, so weather permitting, we decided to do the next one scheduled for the following Sunday.
Dammit, it rained! All that effort and nowhere to go as the site was waterlogged and the car boot sale cancelled. Still, the plus side was it was all ready and when the time came, we had a fighting chance to make enough to cover the cost to do at least one of the jobs.
It was actually 3 weeks before we got to do our first. It was on a Bank Holiday Monday, and we turned up at 6.30am only to be asked if we’d booked in advance. Oh. We didn’t know that, but they promised to get us in once all the ‘booked’ places were taken, directing us to a small queue of about 5 cars. This had extended to at least a dozen about 20 minutes before ‘opening time’ at 8am. As it turned out, we were given one of the better pitches, being in the first row by the gate and directly opposite the hall, which gave us immediate access to the loos, and even more importantly the food bar selling Bacon Butties and cups of tea!! We didn’t get a chance to put everything out nice and tidy as we were inundated with potential customers more or less as soon as we opened the car door. Obviously, ‘opening time’ doesn’t mean a thing to anybody, everything and anything is fair game, so you have to be quick! Within an hour, we’d sold a water butt, 2 fishing rods, a bag of plumbing gear, a set of rubber ducks, one crock pot and a pair of sheets. We love to haggle, and sold several items for less than marked, but it didn’t matter. We had a lot of fun, and the dog was brilliant, staying in the car but watching everything and taking it all in. I took her for a couple of short walks to do any business and she was quite content. Several people commented on her good behaviour and she lapped up any fuss that came her way. We had a wonderful morning, and everyone started packing up around midday. We were delighted to have made a tidy profit, and still had enough stuff left over to do another.
We decided to have another look through the house and came up with a few more bits and pieces to add to our wares, including a variety of toiletries and bottles of squash I’d won in a raffle but was unlikely to use. We went to another site, and although we arrived over 90 minutes ahead of the starting time, we were a long way from the main gates. This particular boot sale is on every week from April through to the end of October, and is extremely popular, especially with traders. It’s huge and you almost need a minibus to get round it all. Saying that though, we had a pretty good spot close to one of the tea wagons (bacon butties not so good) next to a lady selling clothes and directly opposite a guy selling chickens, so not exactly competition. Four chickens got out, so I helped round them up. He promptly got hold of them by their feet, hung them upside down, and they soon stopped flapping as they went to sleep in seconds. The dog didn’t bat an eye, in fact she looked totally bored.
We saw some familiar faces from the previous boot sale, and also some of our dog walking friends, so we were able to chat away and time just flew. We didn’t sell quite as much as last time, but still made a good profit, and had enough in the pot now to order the fence panels! Hurrah!! They were delivered 3 days later and we did the job the same day. We’ve had some pretty heavy winds since and it’s still up. Also it annoys passers by as they can’t see over the top of it into our garden and front windows now. Ha!
Over the next six weeks, we did a further 4 boot sales, each time making enough to cover our expenses, including a cup of tea and a roll. We met some wonderful characters, either buyers or sellers, and chatted to just about anyone who wanted to, even if they didn’t buy anything. We put a bowl of water out for any dogs that were passing which automatically drew even more people to our area and many bought something when otherwise they may have just walked on by. We had 2 rummage boxes with single items for 20 or 50 pence, which proved very popular if someone wanted just 5 curtains rings instead of 10, or one bolt instead of a pack of 5 (which is how we’d got them). We didn’t have a table, so laid everything out on an old piece of carpet with a tarpaulin underneath. We even sold the carpet at one sale for a fiver, and the old gate we’d taken down from the old fence! I saw one woman go by with a scented candle and said “I’ve got one of those, would you like to make a pair?” Sold, for £1. Every little bit helped, be it pence or pounds, we wanted their money!
We did our last one on the 26th July. We didn’t sell everything, and at the end decided to give the charity ladies opposite first pick in case there was anything of interest to them as there wasn’t enough for us to do another. We took the CDs and books to a Greyhound charity shop in town, and then dumped the oddments that were left, which wasn’t a lot.
When we added it all up, we’d made sufficient to buy the new kitchen worktops and paint, so that expense was covered too.
Who would have thought it. A new fence and a revamped kitchen, all for the sake of a mammoth sort out of the stuff we didn’t want. Go on, give it a try. If you can’t get to a car boot sale, maybe have a garage sale instead. You never know what ‘treasures’ you may find for other people!