Monday, 30 April 2012

Car boot sales - a 'fad' that keeps on going

Just as for many people spring is heralded by the first cuckoo, for me it is welcomed in by my first trip to a car boot sale of the year.

Like many of you, I guess, I discovered the joys of car boot sales a number of years ago but suspected then they may just turn out to be a “fad”. Well, if the evidence of my visit last weekend is anything to go by, this is one heck of a long-lasting “fad” because the number of sellers and buyers seems as large as ever.

The reason for the ongoing success of these fun events I think is that they tune into two particular British pleasures. For, although the idea was imported into this country in the 1970s, it all feels quintessentially British because we like being sellers (we are a “nation of shopkeepers” remember) and we enjoy buying too because if there is one thing we Brits all love it is a genuine bargain.

The desire to unearth among other people’s junk something which we hope will turn out to be hidden treasure, is what makes car boot sales such a joy and what has also, of course, created a whole genre of TV shows such as the seemingly ubiquitous Cash In The Attic and of course that long-term Sunday favourite, Antiques Roadshow.

Personally, I prefer another programme which also has the same qualities of Brits looking to do a “Del Boy” and turn one person’s rubbish into another person’s gold, and that is Channel 4’s Wednesday night treat called Four Rooms.

For those who haven’t seen it, this delicious show brings together four very successful antique dealers who get the chance to bid for all sorts of strange items that people keep lurking around in their houses.

Thus in recent weeks we have seen a woman who had salvaged the original letters from the Abbey Road sign which was featured on the Beatles album of the same name, a man who tried (and thankfully dismally failed) to sell a Ku Klux Klan children’s outfit from the 1920s (yes, I know I was appalled too) and even someone who had the very good fortune of having an original piece by Damien Hirst stuck on his chip shop wall. All of these sellers – and many others like them – went into that room thinking in pound signs and it is that lovely sense of hope that we may hit the junk jackpot that is one of the reasons many of us love a car boot sale.

Sadly, on my trip last week, I didn’t discover anything from The Beatles, Damien Hirst or (thank the Lord) the Ku Klux Klan but I still came away with a smile having spent a whopping £1 on a Woody Allen DVD which made me feel that I had got my own little bargain which is, after all, what I was there for.

And, of course, if I can buy then I can sell and despite the fact that I had somewhat hit or miss success in the past, I will certainly have another go.

My failure in the past has been down to the fact that when it comes down to it, although what we are selling is often unwanted junk, it is our unwanted junk and so I can remember turning down perfectly reasonable offers for goods because I thought they were worth more and felt insulted. It was only when I was loading the goods back into my boot later that I realised this probably wasn’t the wisest strategy to adopt.

So I will hone my selling technique again and I look forward to opening Holliday’s Boot Of Delights to you all soon.

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