Sunday 10 April 2011

Car boot Sale Explained

I have been asked by blog readers outside the UK what is a car boot sale?  So here is my explanation.  I arrive 7.00am Sunday mornings and most sellers are setting up or, on a sunny day like today, still arriving.  This location is a livestock market and 'park and ride scheme' car park out of town so it is big.
Each stall holder pays for the stall, it ranges from £7 for a car up to £15 for a trader.  The money is split between the council and local charities.  The charities go into a draw and when it is their week they provide volunteers who organise the parking and collect the money.  
If you arrive early you can find the best bargains.  Straightaway I see this, 
 I already have a version of this but with a bigger cabinet and more drawers, otherwise I would be tempted.  To be honest I was tempted with this one but I do not have the space!
Most of the stalls look like this.  People sell their kid's stuff, clothes, household bits and pieces etc.
There are traders too.  This is a German bakery and I get bread here most weeks.  They have a great selection and regularly sell out.
There are a lot of plant sellers, some are individuals with green fingers and enough surplus of plants, fruit or veg to sell, some are traders who are there every week.  I buy my plants here rather than the DIY superstore places.  The sellers have lots of expertise and are willing to share it, and the prices are cheap. 
This was a whole trailer of rhubarb!  The seller comes every year and sells produce he has grown, runner beans, chard, apples.  It is the first time I have seen him in a while.
This is where I get many of my fabric finds, the rag stall.  It is a mixture of household linens- duvets, curtains etc on the floor and clothes on board tables either side.  There is a big pile of house clearance boxes to rummage in too.  At 7.50 am, a crowd of regulars (including me) stand around this pile and around the clothes tables until the stall holder rings the bell at 8.00 am and then it is a crazy frenzy of mad fabric obsessed women. He started early this week, I got there just in time!  This is the remains after we all dived in and pulled out the good stuff!  
I talked to the lady who had this stuffed cat sitting on her car.  She said her husband always put it out for good luck.  She told me the story of a women whom she met a couple  of months ago who wanted to get pregnant and asked to touch the cat for good luck.  A few weeks later she came back pregnant!
There were a lot of sewing machines today, I must have seen ten as I walked round.
The seller on this stall is a lovely lady and I always stop and chat with her.  She has an incredible supply of vintage buttons and sewing notions.  I bought some buttons from her today- you'll see those later.

There are other random stalls, this one sold bikes, car repair manuals and lawn mowers.
There are pretty vintage style stalls too.  These are nice to look at but often expensive.
After a slow start, I did have bumper finds.  A massive stack of vintage cotton sheets- some unused and all in excellent condition.  They were from the rag stall.
I love these pretty tea plates, there were a little stack for 50p, they match nicely with the linens as well, should I want to eat cake in bed.
This was a cute little tin with its cocktail motif.
The buttons came from the stall you saw earlier and the cotton tape I found for 20p at another stall.
The lady showed me these buttons a couple of weeks ago and I had to buy them today- they reminded me of ducks!  The effect is lost once the stitch is in to hold them on but I probably won't use them, I like them like this and they are very tactile too.
So now I hope you are better informed!  This is a big boot sale and buyers and sellers drive from all around to come.  I am lucky, I live 10 minutes drive from it.  We thought about moving house a while back and this was seriously one of my considerations for staying!   As I come so often it is nice to get to know regular stall holders.  It is a friendly, quirky place- lots of families, dogs, even a ferret on a lead has been seen on some weeks.  And I always find something, a great place for a bargain!
sib blog


  1. That was really fun to see! It is like taking a virtual field trip with you. Love the sheets, plates, and buttons. In the US we have flea markets for goods and farmer's markets for food and crafts. Very similar.

  2. Thank you for showing us around your market..fascinating. Those machines looked great for the price. I loved your sheet finds and the vintage buttons too. It makes you wonder where they have been for years!

  3. The car boot sale reminds me of our farmer's markets, flea markets, and garage sales all combined! Too cool. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks for explaining. I have wondered. You could always sew the 'duck' buttons with a dark matching thread and use french nots for the eyes.

  5. Wowza! I knew about car boot sales, but it looks like you live close to a truly excellent one, Kerry!! If I were in the neighbourhood, I would be right there with you, rummaging obsessively...!

  6. Here in Southern California we call it a Swap Meet. Years ago, ours resembled yours, now they're pretty much all commercial, and I don't bother.

  7. Thanks so much! The mystery has been solved. I think we call these flea markets. Which when you think about it, sounds as random as car boot sale!! Love your ducky buttons too!

  8. Oh I am SO glad you posted this, Kerry! It was a lot different from what I was imagining a car boot was like. I thought it was held in a huge warehouse, not outside like this and I didn't think you could buy bread and plants there neither. Oh how I wish I'd LOVE to go!!!!! It's like a mix of farmer's market and a flea market in this area, but it seems like there is a much higher probability of finding cute vintage stuff at less cost there! So jealous!
    I was at a store called Urban Burp in San Francisco yesterday that sells vintage fabric in bolts. I was thinking how much you'd enjoy the place, but the price was sooooo high I couldn't afford most stuff I wanted. It must be so fun to find such cool inexpensive stuff at a car boot sale! Love everything you found especially the plate!!!

  9. What a great post! Obv. I know what a car boot sale is, but I really enjoyed the story of your car boot & my favourite thing is that plate with the flowers on. I see what you mean about those buttons looking like ducks too! x

  10. Bargain hunting is so much fun. Looks like this is the perfect place!

  11. Wow, your local car boot sale looks great! We went to one today and I got a few great finds, as blogged here - Sew Ray Me
    I love your cute plates!

  12. Wow you have a great boot sale! I saw alot of sewing machines this morning too, the one on the table is what mine should look like I think except mine would have a more 'coffin' like top, not rounded.
    I got some bargains this morning, see here;

  13. What a fun view into your world. The quality of stuff for sale seems to be high, where here in the States, you have to sift through much more junk to get to the good stuff. Have you noticed the prices going up in the car boot sales in the past few years? Here, everyone tries to price things similar to what they sell for on ebay or etsy. That means a lot of stuff doesn't sell because it is so expensive.

  14. Is this the same boot sale that I go to? I've never even seen the button lady! I've seen the rag stall but never had a look... maybe next time I will. We always get there very early so you can park. x

  15. You got some great bargains there !
    Sue x

  16. Thanks for the tour. If I held a boot sale here I would have people pulling up in big pick up trucks asking for Ropers.

    It looks like a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning.

  17. What a fab place, Kerry! Thank you so much for sharing! We have a similar onw here in my hometown, but it's only open in June-August some Sundays and the finds are not that wonderful. Those sewing machines...oh my!

    Have a wonderful week!


  18. I've done a little link in my blog post today to show my readers what a great car boot sale looks like, hope that's ok!?

  19. that looks like fun! it seems more efficient than setting up a big rummage sale in your front yard like we do here. it seems the thrifters there can all go to one place. i'm especially in love with the vintage bed linens. great find.

  20. It is good to be able to go one place at a fixed time. I am hoping to make those linens into a duvet cover

  21. Wonderful description for non UK resident's who don't know what a boot sale is!

    Please join my boot sale Forum!

  22. Thankyou, that is a useful car boot directory!

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