Monday, 30 November 2009

Soggy Selling

Saturday was a beautiful day. Crisp and bright, a little bit cold, but dry. A perfect day for a Car Boot sale. Shame that the Car Boot was taking place on Sunday.

I arrived home from Shabbat and rang my friend, Hen Lady, who confirmed that she would be round later in the evening to load my boxes in to the car. I completed the preparations - counting out the float, creating a box with useful stationary: sellotape, pens, labels, scissors. I even laminated some little price lists for CDs, DVDs, books... and waited for her arrival at 8:30pm.

At 7:30pm it started to rain. Not a light drizzle, but cats and dogs. Just a shower I thought It will stop. It didn't. When Hen Lady parked her car outside the house, it was still belting down with rain. We packed the car with damp boxes, then drove to her house to squeeze whatever she had to sell in to the gaps that were left. The car was packed.

"Can you believe this frickin' rain?" she said.
"It will stop" I said. "I can see it now. We will wake up tomorrow and it will be bright and beautiful"
We checked the weather report for Sunday: light rain and sunny spells, followed by a little bit of heavy rain in the afternoon.
"It will be fine. The rain will pass us by" I said.

We left the house at 6:30 am - the ground was wet but the skies were clear. Perfect.

I would so love to tell the story of how the sun shone and everything sold - my dream car boot day - but ten minutes outside of our destination it started to rain again. And again, not drizzle, but more belting rain. How lucky we were that the sale took place in the covered market, but still we had to get the boxes from the car to the table, in the driving rain. Oh, did I say rain? No it wasn't all rain - at one point the skies started throwing down hail.

And then there were the other traders, hands in the boxes before we had a chance to unpack them, asking prices, trying to get bargains to sell on their own stalls. I had so many boxes that there was not enough room to fit everything on the table and not enough space to think with the other traders hanging around. I did my best to keep my patience, I really did, but found my temper getting shorter and shorter, until my politeness disappeared completely. I stopped asking for people to move out of the way and barged through with my elbows out instead. 'Excuse me' swiftly turned in to "Get out of the fucking waaayyyy" muttered through clenched teeth.

And then everything went quiet, except for the rain. By the time that the table was in some kind of order, the traders had disappeared.

It didn't rain all day. And when the sun made a feeble attempt to shine, it brought the regular market visitors out for a browse.

There were plenty of time wasters - interested in an item, but not interested in paying anything for it, no matter how low the price went. One girl haggled down two items to £1.50 and then grabbed something else to be included 'as part of the set'. Whatever. Take it if you are that desperate. Hen Lady very nearly lost her temper with a woman interested in two beautiful silk pashminas. After 10 minutes of hard sell and haggling, where the price came down from £3.50 for the pair, to £2, the woman shook her head and walked away.

Halfway through the day I spoke to a couple of regular car booters on the stall opposite - a wily fifty something and her 70+ year old friend - a sweet little old lady perched on her stool drinking soup.
"I just can't understand some of these people" I said "They just don't want to pay anything for anything"
"You get to know the time-wasters" Fifty-something said "They are here every week. Have you told anyone to fuck off yet?"
I laughed "No, not yet"
"She has" she said, pointing to the dear sweet old lady to her left.
"I did!" confirmed the kind granny "Not this week - yet - but sometimes they need to be told!"

Well, I'll be.

The rain stayed away until it was time to rebox what was left and pack it in to the car, at which point the soggy boxes were given another lashing, ready to be sitting in damp piles on my living room carpet. I started out with 15 boxes, I finished with 10.

Despite only clearing a third of my stock, I still managed to make £165. Not bad for under 5 hours work. I learned what will sell, and what people want to pay. I learned that some things are hard to drop in price when they have 20 years of emotional value, but that their real price is what people are prepared to pay on the day.

But most importantly, I've learned that once something is gone, it isn't missed, no matter how much or how little was paid for it. I think I'm learning to let go.


  1. What a day you had. It is a pity I wasn't in your part of the world for on the rare occasions I am taken to car boot sales or the like I can never haggle down prices - it seems so rude to me.

  2. Oh Debs I wish I'd been there! What fun I would have had telling people to fuck off. And kudos to you for LETTING GO! See, not that scary after all, is it? xxx

  3. and here i thought you would say something about learning to tell people to fuck off.
    well, as long as you had a decent time.

  4. Alan: I am too kind to haggle when it involves a few pence, hence why the Vietnamese loved me :o)

    Nicola: Plan for next time is to combine telling people to fuck off with a follow-up trip to the charity shop. Wouldn't want to give anyone Bread of Shame :o)

    JST: This is still something I need to learn... next time I will take advice from the old ladies...

  5. That old woman was a crone in disguise, sent to help you separate the effin' edjits from others, with a just a hint of humour...

    Good for you for letting go and dealing with a crazy circumstance with your characteristic wit and humour...

    I've decided that landing on my head qualifies as flipping out...

    Now, if I could only figure out what to do with my weary but otherwise terrific brain...