Bag a Bargain at a Car Boot Sale

For the past 30 years years it has been a typically British pastime to scout out the local car boot sale in the hope of unearthing the next bargain, or conversely selling unwanted items.

And the wheels are rolling.According to carbootsales.org, it is estimated that car boot sales attract one million people every weekend.

In contrast, the Church of England musters only 800,000. Given the fact that Christianity has had a head start of two thousand years, the car boot habit shows no signs of letting up.

For the everyday punter looking to snaffle a steal, you won’t have to travel far afield. Every first Sunday from June until September, Oundle hosts its very own car boot sale located at the football field next to Waitrose.

I headed down early one Sunday morning to meet the people who have a passion for “booting”, and find out how best to be successful in this pursuit.

It’s 8:50am and as I venture through the gate leading to the football fields I am slightly taken aback by the number of boots firmly opened with their contents on display.

I had assumed that the eight o’clock start would be optimistic, especially on a Sunday morning. But nonetheless on this chilly autumnal morning, the Oundle contingent is out in force.

As I scout out the various individual stalls, it is exciting to see the various paraphernalia that we have come to associate with these events: football shirts, second hand bikes, cut price DVDs. The list is extensive.

However, whilst there’s a distinct family feel among the sellers, the competition between the punters is primal.
My most important advice for the rookie “booter” would be to get down there early; an early wake-up dramatically increases one’s chances of a bargain, which are effectively phased out once the mid-morning droves arrive en masse.

But possibly you want to engage in the social element of the pastime. The Oundle car boot is largely community based, compared to the hard-nosed retailers that you might expect to find in the big car parks of Peterborough. There’s time to talk, as well as haggle.

It was difficult to resist a bargain, and I couldn’t leave without an acoustic guitar from a seller who said it had been a “birthday present for the wife. Forgot she was left handed!”

I was also pleased to spot the Saints t-shirt that I bought off an exasperated mother whose darling son had switched his allegiance to Leicester.

Whilst I do like to bag the bargains available, at times one feels that the number of stalls could easily accommodate more variety.

There was a decided glut of unwanted kitchen equipment and too often I saw cooking utensils or coffee machines dejectedly packed away, unable to find a home.

Even if you do not find what you want, at the very least you can enjoy a warm cuppa in the club café, or just sort out stocking fillers for Christmas.

At the best you could wind up with some very valuable pottery. A Ming vase was found at one car boot sale in Leicestershire and is predicted to sell for £5000 at Hansons in Etwell auction. Initial purchase: twenty quid. Happy hunting!

By Harry Curtis