How often do you go to car boot sales? If you’ve never been you need to remedy this immediately. Car boot sales are fantastic for finding bargains, particularly if you have an interest in vintage furniture and accessories. I’ve bought so many items for my flat from them, including a farmhouse table for £5, an Ercol style coffee table for £3, countless lamps at various prices, my vintage cat for 50p, and a retro record table for £3.
In the past people used to sniff at the idea of car boot sales, viewing them as full of old moth bitten clothes and shabby cast-offs. Well I’ve been going to them since I was a child and let me tell you, this is not the case! I never fail to delight in the wide range of quality items you can pick up for just a few pounds. And not only are there bargains to be had but you can often find unique items that just aren’t available in the shops.
Take this suitcase for example, which I came across a couple of weeks ago at my local car boot sale. It still has the list inside from someone’s travels to boarding school in winter 1950. The reminders to pack an overcoat and a blue wool frock are so nostalgic – you just don’t come across stuff like this in IKEA. You might find it on EBay but chances are you’ll be facing stiff competition and wind up paying far more than the £10 this seller was asking.
Another fab find was this Singer sewing machine. A quick search on EBay tells me they go for around £20 but this one was just a fiver!
I also came across this old Tolix chair. The seller had never heard of them and was selling this for just £5. She was amazed when I told her how popular they are these days.
Something else that jumped out at me on this trip was these lovely old glass bottles. On speaking to the lady selling them I found out they dated back to World War I and were discovered at Waltham Abbey Gunpowder Mills. They ranged in price from £3 to £8 and would make for an eye-catching and interesting display in any home.
Finally, I came across these gorgeous 1950s chairs. I almost missed them as they were well hidden under a pile of clothes and a huge bear but luckily my eagle eye was on the prowl. The seller told me they’d been in her mum’s dining room for years and she was keen to part with them as she needed more space – hence my lucky break in getting both for a fiver.
In addition to these, I found not one but two wooden plate racks which I’ll distress to create a nice shabby chic look in my kitchen.
If you fancy trying out a boot sale make sure you arrive early to find the best bargains. Also, remember to take lots of change, a plastic bag or two, and a willing accomplice with a large car and a good set of biceps.
Here’s a list of boot sales throughout the UK. They’re usually only on over the warmer months and mostly on Sundays. Don’t bother if it’s been raining heavily because it will probably be cancelled (you can usually phone an automated service to check). If you go regularly you’re likely to find numerous gems. Be warned, though – some days you’ll go away empty handed and grumbling about the amount of rubbish on offer. If this happens on your first trip, try again – I guarantee you’ll eventually find something that makes it all worthwhile.
Don’t be afraid to haggle but be decent about it. I honestly have seen people trying to get a new coat or boots for 20p. Wear flat shoes and sunscreen, take a bottle of water, keep your elbows to yourself and be prepared to get down on the floor for a good old rummage. Follow these steps and I pretty much guarantee you’ll come away with at least one item that leave you all aglow (and feeling perhaps just a tiny bit smug).
Happy hunting, everyone!