Went carboot-cruising with DD1 this morning, and came home with a very respectable haul from the bootsale area of our local market, I’m delighted to say, despite the fact that probably more than half of the sellers there are actually regular traders rather than people emptying their attics. But then I went on to another sale elsewhere; I knew it was likely to be more upmarket than the other one because of the “posh” venue, but some of the prices were eyewatering! I’d halfway expected to find people packing up as I was so late, but most of the stalls were still laden. Which isn’t surprising, when one of the vendors was charging £16 for a small rectangle of fabric, just big enough to scrape a cushion out of. Yes, it was nice Sanderson fabric, and probably half of what she’d paid for it new, but that is NOT a boot-sale price. If I want to pay half the new price for posh fabric, I’ll wait for a sale in at our very-good local interior designers & have a choice of fabrics.
And as for the gentleman who happily sold me a lovely ebony glove-stretcher for 50p, a matching ebony & ivory clothes brush also for 50p, and then spoilt it all by asking £5 for a white enamel milk jug with cracks, that someone at some point had filled with orange paint, which was thickly plastered inside & splashed all over the outside, oh dear…
I’m not daft, I know enamel is hot just now. But that poor jug was past it before the paint incident; you might have got some daft banker-on-secondment to pay £5 for it with cracked enamel. But liberally plastered with well-dried-on orange paint, too? I think not… but I’m very happy with the glove-stretcher & the clothes brush anyway. They’re beautiful, if not currently fashionable, and have true & lasting value.
I go out to boot & jumble sales with a change-purse filled with £20 of small change. I may or may not have more money with me, and if I saw something that I knew to be a real bargain – a Timbertops spinning wheel, say – I might dig into other resources. But mostly I manage to keep well within what’s in my purse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not intending to be mean, and I don’t begrudge a decent price for a decent article, and yes, I do know what it’s like to crawl out of bed on a freezing morning to try to earn a few extra pennies to keep the wolf from the door because I cut my teeth on car boot sales, but if you want to do well at car-booting, don’t charge too much!
I found one of my friends there, and she’d done well & enjoyed herself, by charging between 50p – £2 for good quality, serviceable clothes. The guy selling healthy, well-grown, unusual perennial plants like Saponaria for £1 each had clearly done well too, and deservedly so, and I was happy to add to his profits. And the lady selling delicious home-made fudge deserved every penny of her earnings. But charging nearly as much for everyday things as they cost new, or as much for stuff that really is past its best as you’d pay for top-quality items in an antique shop, is a sure-fire recipe for going home with a car full of unwanted items you brought with you. If you have something of real value to sell, chances are that a car boot sale isn’t the best place to sell it.
Yes, I mostly buy with a view to selling on. But I will have put work into the items that go onto my stall; every handcranked or treadled sewing machine & spinning wheel will have been serviced & supplied with instructions, feet, needles, & bobbins. Fabric, clothing & table linen has usually been washed, mended & starched if appropriate, pressed, trimmed & measured for pricing. Patterns have been checked; some of the older ones have up to 20 fragile pieces to identify & smooth out. Books are checked for defaced & missing pages, and so on & so forth. So if you want the same price as I’m likely to get for it, I’m not going to buy it from you! (Although, of course, someone else may.) And if you want more than I’d get for it, you’re probably not being realistic.
It’ll be a while before I have a chance to do a car-boot sale or something similar myself. But I have a garage full of assorted non-vintage clutter that I need to dispose of; let’s see if I can take my own advice when the time comes & let it go at a price that people are happy to pay!