The last time I did a car boot sale, I didn’t even break even. £10 entry, £17 sales, £23 buying treasures from another woman’s trash. You do the math.
But this time shit’s about to get real.
With a move to another continent on the horizon, every possession I have feels like a lead weight anchoring me to home. Hassle. I want rid of almost everything I own.
I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I’m pretty sure I was a magpie in a former life because ever since I can remember, I’ve loved hunting for second-hand treasures.
When I was little my Mum would take me and my brother to the local charity shops and give us a pound each to spend on whatever we wanted. A pound went a long way in the 80s and 90s.
Greg would always dig out some sort of transformer figure or a book on dinosaurs…me, I headed straight for the clothes rail. I was magnetised towards florals, ra-ra skirts, 80s ski bombers, pastel shades, sequins and mad hats. What’s changed.
Possibly the best fleamarket in Europe, and I’ve been to quite a few, is Flohmarkt am Mauerpark in Berlin. Everything in that city is just so weird and wonderful and free, it’s like everybody is in a permanent state of post-party haze.
My first ever Mauerpark Erfahrung (experience) is etched on my memory like a series of vintage polaroids…
There was a guy who looked a little bit like Prince, swaggering or staggering towards me in the most ostentacious gold glitter blazer, eyes smudged with guyliner, looking vacantly into another world as he zombied on by.
As we got closer, you could feel the vibrations, you could feel the fun – it was buzzing.
I pottered about the stalls for a couple of hours in my element and bought myself one of my top ten fleamarket purchases of all time – a chestnut coloured fox fur muff – then grabbed myself ein Bier and hit the park for a day rave. Sun beamed through the clouds, lighting up the grassy dancefloor with strobes from Heaven.
LIFE LESSONS FROM A CAR BOOT SALE
This time it’s Bootle, not Berlin, there’s no beer, no music, and I’m on the other side of the stall flogging some seriously good stuff for 50p a piece.
The car booter’s mindset is that anything above £1 is daylight robbery. I love this though, I love the idea of value and how it can be interpreted so broadly.
In fact, I watched a Ted Talk earlier this week called The Price of Happiness which talks about some of the most expensive products and experiences in the world – hotel rooms at $30,000 per night, soap made of silver and gourmet coffee that comes from the arsehole of an Asian tree cat.
They’re all high in cash value, that’s indisputable, but perceived value is totally up for debate.
At a car boot sale it doesn’t matter that my dress is silk, made by Jaeger, cost me £95 and I’ve only worn it once, it’s just pieces of fabric stitched together and it’s worth no more than the rest of the rags on display.
Another thing I learned today was a new carboot tactic; pristine clothes hung neatly in colour order is a deterrent. My rail serendipitously collapsed about 20 minutes in so I was forced to fling my clothes onto the floor into pile à la Bargain Bucket.
It was like the world’s last breadcrumb had been dropped and all the pigeons came flocking, (I’m not calling carboot punters pigeons, just FYI) and I raked in the sales.
VALUE IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
Then there was the People Watching – possibly one of the greatest and most insightful hobbies of all time and there were definitely a few Heroes floating about.
I absolutely adore anyone who doesn’t care what other people think. I worship anybody whose personality overflows into their clothes, especially women who have been on the planet for half a century or more but haven’t lost their childlike excitement for colour to the beigeness of Adulthood.
And as a closing thought, there’s a bit of a humbling aspect to it all. A lot of the people there were stocking up on clothes, shoes and homewares not because they wanted them, but because they needed them.
I saw a lady no older than forty-five, pushing along her trolley full of bargain necessities, her skin was withered, her face was drawn and her head hung low. I looked down and noticed the shoes she was wearing were at least a size too big, maybe even two.
So while I was there auctioning off the bottom of my enormously overstocked life, there she was just topping up her survival kit.